This morning, the 29th annual See You at the Pole (SYATP) prayer event saw students praying outside their schools all across the U.S. Organizers of the nationwide event estimated around a million students were planning to participate.
“One of the coolest things about prayer is what it does to us. It’s so unifying,” Joel Smallbone of the band For King & Country said in a promotional video for the event. “There’s so much division so often in life, in school, in relationships, and prayer really unites our hearts, not only with God, but with each other.”
See You at the Pole Emphasizes Unity
Schools across the U.S. and 63 other nations participate in the annual event. Images of students praying around flag poles or other central locations on their campuses can be found on social media. There is a strong emphasis on helping students not be afraid to pray at school and to come together in unity.
— Coach Cary (@CoachJDCary) September 25, 2019
— McCreary Central HS (@McCrearyCentral) September 25, 2019
— Jennifer Beesley (@jennbeesley) September 25, 2019
Great gathering for See You At The Pole this morning! So many prayers lifting up our peers, teachers, administrators, and government. God is on the move at GHS! #SYATP #IFWEPRAY pic.twitter.com/HqV8YUxunl
— Ty Youngblood (@AVYoungblood4) September 25, 2019
The Push to Get Students to Pray Together Year-Round
Organizers of the event also launched a “Campus Prayer” app that seeks to connect middle school and high school students to other praying students at their schools throughout the year. The app provides interested students with content, ideas, and tools they can use for weekly prayer gatherings on their respective campuses.
“See You at the Pole is a ‘moment,’” Doug Clark, national field director of the National Network of Youth Ministries, told Baptist Press. “We hope adults and students will consider turning that moment into a movement by praying every day.”
A Small Group of Teens Inspired See You at the Pole
Today, SYATP is an event that spans across 64 countries and involves an average of one million students each year. It started in 1990 in a small town in Texas. A group of teenagers attended an event called DiscipleNow in Burleson, Texas. SYATP’s site explains:
On Saturday night their hearts were penetrated like never before, when they became broken before God and burdened for their friends. Compelled to pray, they drove to three different schools that night. Not knowing exactly what to do, they went to the school flagpoles and prayed for their friends, schools, and leaders.
After that fateful night, some youth leaders got involved, who realized there were pockets of Christian students across the country who were burdened to pray for their school friends. At a brainstorming session for a meeting of “key youth leaders,” the idea of having students organize a prayer event at the flagpoles outside their schools came to be. The annual event originated on September 12, 1990, with 45,000 students in four states. From there, it grew.
Are There Any Legal Concerns With Students Gathering to Pray?
SYATP emphasizes it is a student-led event, and the website outlines how students can avoid potential problems with the administration of their schools by doing things like informing the school staff when and where they will be meeting. The website also assures those who may be concerned that “You can legally gather for prayer before school, but it’s best to let the administration know ahead of time.” The site also gives advice for advertising the event on school grounds, telling students not to “cover” their campus with flyers or “stuff lockers” as this “may not be cool with the administration and is outside your rights as a student.” The site provides videos and images students can use on their social media accounts to advertise the event.
The site even goes so far as to outline how to respond if they receive pushback from the administration of their school. The organizers emphasize the need for students to know their rights, avoid conflict, and use expert legal counsel if necessary. They include a list of legal help, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Legal Society.
While the recommendations may seem to be listed out of an abundance of caution, a situation that occurred in Tennessee recently highlights the need for students to know what is permissible to do on school grounds and what may not be.
In related news, NFL player Drew Brees recently came under fire for promoting a Focus on the Family initiative called Bring Your Bible to School day. This event, coming up on October 3rd, encourages students to bring their Bibles to school (and to read them).