60 years ago in 1958, Steven Engel from New York brought parents together and made the decision to sue the state over a state authorized prayer in public schools. That case made it to the United States Supreme Court in 1962, where they decided it violated the First Amendment because prayer represented establishment of religion. Engel won.
Then Pennsylvania, in 1963, decided on the case of Abington School District v. Schempp; a complaint made by Schemp to stop Bible readings in public schools. Schempp won.
Also in 1963 came the verdict of Madalyn Murray O’Hair against the Baltimore School System to ban school prayer labeling it “unconstitutional”. O’Hair won.
As a Christian, I believe government made the wrong decisions in all three of these cases, which directly affect core foundations for our children.
Christians know children need the full power of prayer! Children, like adults, need prayer all day, in every situation. The following is from the gospel of Mark:
Mark 9:16-29 “What are you arguing with them about?” he [Jesus] asked.
A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“ ’If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.
Jesus overpowered evil in a young boy with prayer.
Today in our schools, headlines reveal real hate and wickedness. Just like the boy in this story was possessed by evil, schools can shockingly nurture some students to foster evil.
Corrupt nurturing may start in an unhealthy family environment, then be fed at school by bullying, nonacceptance, isolation. This can lead to a destructive interest in violent gaming. Whatever the manifestation, our schools are clearly suffering the consequences of rampant pour nurturing.
As parents, a feeling of hopelessness may try to attack us. On a personal note, my daughter and her husband feared for their safety this past week-end as they celebrated their one year wedding anniversary at an AirB&B, 1,400 miles away from us:
“we awoke at 3am to a guy screaming and cursing outside our window. He threatened to break the neighbors windows and was obviously not mentally coherent. We hid in the bathroom, away from windows, as the cops came and he fled the scene. When the sun rose, we grabbed our stuff and ran to my car.”
That man had evil within him, just as the boy in Mark 9:16-29, and, just like killers that come to seek and destroy the innocent within our schools.
So how did Jesus say we should rebuke the impure spirit?
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.
Let us stop the evil before it starts. We need to bar evil from ever crashing through our school doors. Like Jesus – We Need To Pray!
Billy Graham Evangelical Association – “Prayer is spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relationship in which man should not only talk to God but also listen to Him. Prayer to God is like a child’s conversation with his father. It is natural for a child to ask his father for the things he needs.”
If you are a teacher, a parent or a student still in school, please pray throughout your day as you walk the school halls. It doesn’t matter that Engel, Schempp or O’Hair won their small, earthly battles against prayer. Their win has no control over your private mental communications with our heavenly Creator!
No one but God and you have control over your thoughts and prayers. Though some may not believe in the idea of “thoughts and prayers” – we know Jesus does! And He is the one that counts!
Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
You don’t need a prayer club and you don’t need to meet at the flag pole. The Bible tells us it’s good to pray in private, a personal exchange between us and God. You can do this all day, starting by staying in communication with God as you travel to school, asking for His constant protection.
When you enter the school, invite God to prevent evil from infiltrating the building. As you walk in the halls, thank Him that evil never enters any classroom. As you pass tables of students at lunch, ask God for mercy that He touches hearts, and that students also kindly commune with each other. Pray that all may know His goodness and also begin to pray in school. Then as you travel home remember to thank God for His goodness.
You did it! You prayed all day in school and the courts couldn’t stop you! And hopefully, thousands of other students, teachers, administrators, custodians, nurses, bus drivers, and parents will do the same.
Prayer does make a difference!
If you think you’ll forget about praying, consider wearing a shoelace bracelet. Though Jesus is mighty, He is also humble. The shoelace reminds us Jesus washed the feet of others. As you go about your school day the shoelace will help you remember to pray for safety and salvation for others. But, it can also remind you to be humble and kind.
Your humility an kindness may be just what is needed to hamper bullying, make someone feel included, and prevent isolation.
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