See You at the Pole (SYATP) is a global day of student prayer. It began in 1990 with only ten students praying at their school and twenty-two years later millions pray on their campuses the fourth Wednesday in September. It is student-initiated, student-organized and student-led. Typically, students will gather around the flag pole in front of their school before the school day to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school and nation to God. It is supported by a league of ministries like: Moms in Touch, National Day of Prayer, Christian Educators, Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth for Christ and many more. (See the SYATP website for a full list.)
One of the greatest questions that is asked each year is whether teachers and/or administrations can join in See You at the Pole. The purpose of SYATP is for students to be the leaders and initiators of the event. It is their time to seek God. Well-intentioned adults often join in and even take over the event, but it is neither wisdom nor legal. As a part of the 16-9 movement, we strive to help Christians in the public school understand what they can and cannot do. SYATP is one of these very important events that we need to be wise as a serpent and humble as a dove.
To prepare for See You at the Pole, an adult and teacher’s role is to pray for the students BEFORE the event. Second, be sure to understand the US Government Guidelines for Constitutionally Protected Prayer for the Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. It basically states that students-led prayer is totally legal because it does not interrupt instruction, it is before the school date and is outside the school building, but most importantly it is student-led. Teachers may pray with each other before or after school, but are not permitted to pray with the students. Although it is tempting to support the students, use wisdom and discretion. There certainly needs to be adult supervision in the area, but allow the students to experience this incredible freedom and privilege.
For the students, there is no requirement to ask permission of the administrators to hold a See You at the Pole event on the 4th Wednesday in September (or any other day of the school year) because this precedent has already been settled in the courts. However, since we are representing Jesus Christ, it is always courteous to let the administration of the school know. If there should be any objection, don’t take the battle on. Be respectful and then call for assistance to a host of legal advocates such as Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Educators (CEAI) and/or National Legal Foundation. Most times, it only takes a simple phone call to clear up any fears or misunderstandings that may arise.
The See You at the Pole website is a wealth of information from legal guidelines to checklists for preparation. Whether there is a single student, two or three huddled together or hundreds gathered to pray, it is about the students’ cry for an awakening. The 2012 See You at the Pole™ theme is Awaken and the Scripture is Ephesians 3:14–21 - “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts…And I pray that you… grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and…that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…’”
This year SYATP falls on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur. For those schools that are closed, please consider having your SYATP event the day before or after. For those students and teachers who are home on that day, why not consider fasting on this day with our Jewish brothers and sisters? May God be given the glory each day and especially on this year’s See You at the Pole.
Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.