posted on September 24, 2012 at 11:03 am
Every year on the fourth Wednesday in September, Christian students across the globe meet at their schools’ flagpoles to pray for their schools, teachers, administration and classmates; they pray to take back their schools for God. For those of you who haven’t heard, this Wednesday, September 26, is See You at the Pole!
This year’s theme is “Awaken.”
Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right and to my cause, my God and my Lord (Psalm 35:23).
See You at the Pole is a student-initiated and student-led time of prayer. Generally, students meet at their school’s flagpole 30 minutes before the start of school–so if your first period bell is at 7:30 a.m., you’d meet at the flagpole at 7:00 a.m.
Two main questions arise about See You at the Pole–“Is it legal?” and “Didn’t Jesus condemn public prayer?”–so let’s answer those right now.
- Is See You at the Pole legal? Yes! According to a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens and affirmed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, “Students may also participate in before or after school events with religious content, such as ‘see you at the flag pole’ gatherings, on the same terms as they may participate in other noncurriculum activities on school premises. School officials may neither discourage nor encourage participation in such an event.” [syatp.com]
- Didn’t Jesus condemn public prayer? This question comes from a reading of Matthew 6:5-6:
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Many Christians take this to mean we should never pray in public, but as I researched this Scripture, I learned that Jesus is actually not condemning public prayer; Jesus is condemning a certain motive of the heart. When we pray, the motives of our heart should be thankfulness to God, adoration of God or sincere desire to see change in others’ lives and our world. Our motives need to be pure.
In this Scripture, Jesus is talking about people whose motives are not pure. When these people (mostly Pharisees) prayed, they did it very dramatically so other people would see how amazingly spiritual they were. They prayed to draw attention to themselves and that is an impure motive.
The motive for See You at the Pole is for God to move in our schools. It’s a desire for students’ and teachers’ lives to be changed, and for God to take the leadership of our campuses and upcoming generations. These motives are pure and worthy in God’s eyes.
On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale to remove prayer from public schools, essentially kicking God out of our public school system. See You at the Pole and the Christian clubs that meet on your campuses are our way of inviting God back into our schools, where we desperately need Him.
Will you be joining the millions of Christians around the world to pray for your school? Will we see you at the pole?
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or it I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
Image: Thinkstock | Ron Chapple Studios