By Sarah Hamaker, Crosswalk.com
When my children were young, many Christians I encountered outside my church often thought I homeschooled the four of them. When they heard I happily sent them off to public school with a kiss and a wave, they usually expressed either dismay or confusion over my school choice.
For many Christians, where to send your child to school or college can cause great angst and worry, but it doesn't have to. Before I offer some prayers for choosing a school for your children, let me offer a bit of overall guidance when considering school choices.
First, remember your child is their own person with his or her own sinful tendencies. Whether you choose to homeschool, public school, or private school, your child will struggle with the same heart issues.
Second, remember it's your responsibility to teach your child God's Word. It's not the school's responsibility. It's not the church's responsibility. It's our responsibility first and foremost as parents. This means I'm not expecting the public schools to get it right regarding morality and other non-academic stuff. This means my husband and I take the lead in discipling our children in our faith through family devotions and frank discussions about social and moral issues.
Third, remember God is the one who does the heart work. Our job as parents is to plant the seeds, but it's God through his Holy Spirit who waters and grows those seeds of faith into full-grown flowers for him. We have a part to play, but ultimately, it's God who brings faith into fruition in our children's hearts.
Fourth, remember knowledge isn't something to be feared. When one of my sons was in upper elementary school, he came home from school upset because he didn't think he could be a Christian and a scientist. As we talked through it, I gently reminded him that God created the entire world, and we are called to study his wonderful creation. We also discussed how it was okay for him to learn about evolution and to study the material so he would do well on the test—that God called him to be a good student and that learning such material didn't mean he had to believe it was true.
Now here are seven prayers for choosing a school for your children.
General Prayer for School
No matter your child's age, here is a prayer I often pray for my children and their school decisions. You can add it to the other prayers or pray it separately as you consider where to send your child.
Prayer: Let me see clearly the potential pitfalls of this school for my child. Give me the wisdom to evaluate how my child and I can make a difference in this school. Let me decide not out of fear but out of abundant faith that you will use this school for my child's good and your glory.
Prayers for Preschool
Preschool options abound in many areas of the country. Here's a prayer for when you need to decide which preschool would be the right fit for your little one.
Prayer: Lord, please help me choose a preschool that will open my child's eyes to the wonders of your creation. Let the teachers there be more focused on building a love of learning in my child than busy seatwork. Let it be a school where my child will learn how to be a student and be kind to others. Let it be a place that emphasizes learning through play to enrich my child's entire world.
Prayers for Elementary School
Public elementary schools can be very different from private elementary school options, with both having pros and cons. Prayerfully considering which option is right for you doesn't have to be tricky. Use this prayer as a guide.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please guide me in selecting the best elementary school option for my children. Help me evaluate not just the school's rating but its tenor—how the students treat each other, how the staff treats the students, and how the administration supports the staff. Help me find a school where kindness rules, every student's needs are met, learning is joyful, and recess is plentiful.
Prayers for Middle School
Middle school can be a scary time for both parents and kids. Some school districts put sixth grade in with seventh and eighth graders, while others only have seventh and eighth grade as junior high. Here's a prayer to help you decide where to send your middle schooler.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please assist me as I choose a middle school for my child. You know the kind of school that will help him to grow. You know the type of environment that will be best for her. Help me not to allow fear or trepidation to color my decision. Let me be bold in asking for your wisdom, and let me seek the counsel of others in my neighborhood, church, and family. Let me rest in knowing you will protect and keep my child safe while attending school.
Prayers for High School
The stakes seem much higher when our children enter high school. Not only are they beginning to pull away from us as parents, but they are developing their own pathway to life after high school. Then there's the high school crushes and dating that can add to the stress a parent might feel, as well; as becoming licensed drivers. Here's how you could pray for choosing the right high school for your teen.
Prayer: Father, you know your plans for my teen, including a high school to meet his academic and social needs. You know the type of school where my child will flourish, will have a chance to explore his future through challenging classes, excellent teachers, and good friends. You know where he can shine for you and reach his potential. Please guide us as we consider the options and let us make the best decision we can for this teen.
Prayers for College
When it comes to higher education, your student should also pray about where to attend college. There are numerous personal factors when it comes to picking a university, but we'll focus on the general for this prayer.
Parents' prayer: Dear Lord, please guide us and our student in deciding where to attend college. Please help us consider the most important factors, such as the environment, the resources, the cost, and the location. Let us not be blinded by fear of the unknown or dazzled by shiny buildings. Let us seek campuses with strong Christian ministries so our students will find like-minded individuals. We also pray for roommates and classmates who will build up our student's faith while giving them an opportunity to do the same for others.
Student's Prayer: God, please help me pick a college where I can learn in a safe environment. Guide me to the campus where I can both serve you in my calling as a student and grow in my faith. Give me wisdom when deciding on a future career and where to study for that. Help me not to be paralyzed by fear but to be emboldened by the promises in your Word about my future.
School choices abound for most of us, and with prayer, we can make the best decision for our students.
Sarah Hamaker is a national speaker and award-winning author who loves writing romantic suspense books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s also a wife, mother of four teenagers, a therapeutic foster mom, a UMFS Foster Parent Ambassador, and podcaster (The Romantic Side of Suspense podcast). She's a biblical parent coach and certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ with a heart for helping parents develop stronger relationships with their children. For more on her encouraging and commonsense approach to raising kids, visit her online at sarahhamaker.com.