The following is a collection of back to school 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.
1. 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.
2. A prayer for children going to school.
Dear Jesus, you who promises 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.
3. A prayer for children schooling at home.
Dear Jesus, you who promises 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 patient with my family. Give me joy this day, and thank you for loving me from head to toe. In your name. Amen.
4. A prayer for high school and college students.
O Lord, you who promises 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
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