Back to School Basics for Parents

Back to School Basics for Parents
By Tamara Scott
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It's that time of year again and children across the nation are returning to the books.
Some will head off to the public school sector, others in private venues, and others still, in the privacy of their own homes.   While each family will have to decide how and where their children should be educated, there is one thing, hopefully, of which we should all agree.   It is the most basic back-to-school item that we can give our children with very little cost and a great deal of return.   No, it's not the latest ipod or videophone.  It's prayer.  
Sometimes with all of the back-to-school shopping, school sports beginning, and anxiety in general, we fall into our schedules and forget to do the one thing we should do without question.
Prayer may have been taken out of the public school arena, but it certainly should never be taken out of us, or our homes.   As parents, we should set an example with our prayer life, but not for the purpose of setting an example.  Rather, because we see the need for daily communication, and we seek His guidance, covering, and protection for our families.   From our diligence and trust, our children will see a lifestyle lived which will make a much stronger impact than someone simply setting an example. 
If prayer isn't already part of your daily schedule, give yourself time to adjust and learn a new habit.  Experiment with your family's schedule and see how prayer might best be manageable.  Perhaps your family is early risers and able to pray before heading out the door in the morning.   Maybe you're night owls and an evening time of prayer would better suit your needs.   Small children sometimes need 'down time' where prayer time might fit nicely before bed - we used to call it the family circle in our home.    Don't mistake the need for prayer with older students who will likely face the most fierce battles any Christian will be asked to face in today's culture.   If you're fortunate enough to home school, a prayer time can be worked right into your school day.   There is no sweeter experience than praying together over studies at the kitchen table.  
Work to find the best time in your child's schedule where prayer can be practiced.  If praying together just doesn't work for your family, let your kids know you're covering them in prayer and encourage them to find time to pray on their own.  Make sure priorities are in their proper place before giving up on a family prayer time.   If your children are not in the same home, see if you can meet or call them for prayer once a week.  If that isn't possible, let them know you're praying for them daily – and then do it.
Perhaps your children are grown.   If you've got grandkids, put their names on your fridge, mirror, or car dash as a reminder to pray, and let them know you're praying for them.  Perhaps there is a young family at church you can adopt and pray for each week.   Ask them to let you know of their prayer needs, tests, etc.
This simple twenty-two-word prayer that students used to say in the classroom only took a moment to say.   Yet, we've seen the wake of devastation after it's removal.  

                Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country."
Test scores have dropped, pregnancy rates have climbed, STD's have flourished, violent crimes and divorce rates now place our nation in a very ugly lead worldwide.   It simply proves our prayers don't have to be elaborate or elongated to be effective.
Pray for your students' safety and protection: physically from harm - Psalm 91:9-12, spiritually from temptation and wrong philosophies – Col 2:8, emotionally from those who would abuse others, and some kids will - Psalm 91:4-5, and intellectually from academic worldviews that are in opposition to Christianity – 2 Tim 2:15,16.
Pray God's influence would be upon teachers, administration, and staff members - 1 Tim 2:1-4.
Pray that God would give you discernment over peers, instructors, programs, and curriculum – James 1:5   
Pray for direction and courage in any action you should take – 1Cor. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />15:58.
Pray for God's grace and love when you need to confront a situation.  It is far too easy to strike out in the flesh when our children are at risk – 1Cor. 16:13,14.
James 2:14-15 reminds us of the need to put our faith into action.   While prayer alone can change all things, we are not called to stop at prayer alone.   When we become aware of harmful influences, we need to have the courage to take action even if it's inconvenient, costly, changes our lifestyle, or upsets our children.  Yet, many Christians seemingly place their heads in the sand saying, "I'll just pray about it."  
Obviously, any parent who has suffered the tragedy of school violence would tell you they would have done more than pray if they'd only known of the impending danger.   Before you say 'well duh', know your child may be facing impending danger.  It may not be a visible threat of violence, but the battleground of the culture war is in the classroom.  How will we as Christians, and as parents, respond to it?   For some, there is no alternative to the public school available.   Others have prayed it through and feel it is where God has directed them to place their children.  In both cases, parents will have to trust Him to honor their prayers and then be diligent in their guardianship.   But more often, Christians just don't want to 'deal' with the issues or make waves.   We need to understand that our being unaware or ignoring the danger doesn't decrease its risks on our children.   We cannot simply stay uninvolved and assume God will bless and protect in our neglect. 
We will stand before God, accountable, for those he has given us to raise.  Whether we choose private, public, or home education, we are responsible for all they will see, hear, and learn. 
He handpicked and custom knit our children specifically for us and us for them.    They are truly the only earthly possession we can take to Heaven.    

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