The following is a collection of prayers related to the start of school. As both a professor of worship and a parent of two school-age children, I tried to imagine the sorts of things that parents and kids, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders might be feeling in light of the unpredictable realities that face them this fall.
My hope is that, in praying these prayers, they will sense in palpable and deeply personal ways the care-filled love of the Good Shepherd who knows them by name. In the end, the goal is simply to pray as one can and when one can, trusting always that the Spirit prays in and for us when we can no longer find the right words or even the will to pray.
A prayer for a new day.
O God, you who make things new, again and again, enliven the thoughts of my mind, revitalize the cells of my body, and cause a fresh outburst of praise to surge in my heart so that I might taste the Life that is truly life this day. In the name of the one whose face is like the shining sun. Amen.
A prayer for children going to school.
Dear Jesus, you who promise to be with me always, I pray that you would be with me today as I go to school. Bless my going and my coming. Bless my learning and my playing. Please protect my heart from fear. Please keep me safe. Please give me good friends. Give me joy this day, and thank you for loving me from head to toe. In your name. Amen.
A prayer for children schooling at home.
Dear Jesus, you who promise to be with me always, I pray that you would be with me at home today as I do my schoolwork. Please help me to do my best, help me not to feel alone, and help me to be with patient with my family. Give me joy this day, and thank you for loving me from head to toe. In your name. Amen.
A prayer for high school and college students.
O Lord, you who promise to be with me always, be with me this day as I begin my schoolwork. Keep me in health, I pray, and keep me from harm. In all that I do and say, may I love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and may I love my neighbor as myself, so that I might fulfill your purposes for me and your calling on my life as a student. In Christ’s name. Amen.
A prayer for parents.
O Lord, you who promise to guide us through the wilderness and to protect us through the storm, we ask that you would make us wise when we cannot clearly see the way forward, make us brave when we feel afraid, make us strong in the face of our weakness, and make possible what to us seems impossible, so that we might joyfully entrust ourselves and our children into your tender care in these trying and troubling times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A prayer for teachers.
O Lord, you who are the Good Teacher, I ask that you would help me to love my students well this day and to be patient with things that don’t go according to plan. May I help my students to feel afresh the wonder of our subject matter, to be humble in the face of ignorance, to be gracious with themselves in the light of mistakes that they may make, to delight in things newly discovered, and to love the truth with all their hearts and minds, so that they might be wise and compassionate citizens of this world that you so love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A prayer on behalf of teachers.
O Lord, you who have called and equipped the teachers in our community, we pray for them today. Watch over them, provide for them, guide them, sustain them. May you be their sun and shield, so that they might do the work that you have entrusted to them and sense your care in these uncertain times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A prayer for school administrators.
O God, you who have promised wisdom to all who would ask it, we pray today for school administrators, that you would grant them clarity of mind, unity of spirit, strength of will, a heart of wisdom and the gift of your truth-bearing Spirit, so that they might be enabled to make decisions that lead to the flourishing of their teachers, staff, and students and to the wellbeing of the whole community. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
A prayer for frustrated school-related relationships.
O Lord, you who told us that we would have trouble in this world, we confess to you our worries over things that we cannot control, our distress over things that seem wrongheaded, and our frustration with those who oppose us on things that we hold dearly. Grant us the ability to bear with one another in love, and may the peace of Christ guard our hearts, so that together we might trust your leading and walk in the way of unity that only the Spirit of God can make possible. Amen.
A prayer for the time of pestilence.
O Lord, you who are the refuge of the poor and needy, we ask that you would save us from the pestilence that stalks in the darkness and the plague that destroys at midday. Be our sun and shield. Be our fortress. Be our comfort this day. May we not fear any evil but rather trust in your might to save and your wisdom to guide, so that we might rest always in the shadow of the Almighty. In the name of the one who heals our diseases. Amen.
A prayer for nightly care.
O Lord, you who guard me through the watches of the night, I entrust to you all that I said and left unsaid this day, all that I did and left undone, all that I wished this day could have been but was not, and I ask that you would grant me your peace, so that I might trust you in all things. In the name of the one who holds my life in tender care. Amen.
W. David O. Taylor