The years of 1962 and ’63 mark ground breaking rulings for the banning of government sponsored prayer; meaning if the government was helping to pay for education or a school, prayer was not allowed and ruled unconstitutional. It was ruled that the government would not be included in forcibly making people pray.
There was much outrage but no real danger for over 30 years. There was not a thought of a school shooting until Columbine. From April 28, 1999 to today (December 14, 2012), there have been several youth, young adults, and adults who have lost their lives in what is supposed to be one of the safer places in the world; school.
It is unlawful for administration, staff, or management at any public school to lead or be involved in any kind of prayer on school property. So that means that there is no prayer in school, correct?
We are missing the point, unfortunately. The real issue is that our churches, pastors, ministers, and leaders are failing our youth. Some churches have youth ministries that are designed for kids to have a good time or color pictures all service long with juice and crackers. Others teach youth about God and they break it down on a level that they can understand. There is nothing wrong with either of these approaches.
At home, we play with our children, cook for them, and engage them as much as we can. We help them with their homework as well.
I believe parents and churches are teaching youth and young adults about prayer. But are we empowering them TO pray? (Proverbs 22:6)
Example: You iron your child’s jeans every day. You tell them the importance of ironing and presenting themselves in a certain manner. So, they get older and you realize that this particular morning, you are unable to iron for them. You tell them, “I’ve taught you how to iron; now it’s your turn.” Do you really expect them not to burn themselves or their clothes? They never actually held an iron, but you want them to do what you’ve taught them.
The same is happening in our schools. Yes, teachers cannot organize prayer for kids anymore. But as I mentioned earlier, speech and prayer is protected by the 1st amendment. Did you know that students are allowed to assemble and pray together INSIDE of schools? There are little known organizations like SYATP (See You At The Pole) that are student led. They meet at the school’s flagpole every 3rd Wednesday in September for prayer and it is completely legal!
God lives within us. He is also omnipresent. There is no way that any legal body can remove the presence of God. So I’d like to say that to dispel the idea that “God has been kicked out of our schools”.
All these shootings have done is expose the fact that our kids are not comfortable praying outside of their homes. What are they afraid of? Social mocking? God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), so why are we not empowering our youth to pray and change the climate of our schools?
How do we empower them? We allow them to pray. We encourage their own, heartfelt prayers; not teaching them scripted prayers that people have mumbled for centuries. This Christmas, when you are fortunate enough to open gifts with your children around the tree, have them pray, earnestly, from their hearts.