Against Such Things: On Prayer in Schools and Bullying

My husband came home from church last week, singing a new to him song, about the fruit of the spirit, about the fruit not being an apple or a grape. I joined in on the song and finished it before he could even get to the list

Because the fruit is lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessfaithfullnessgentlenessandselfcontro-o-ol. lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessfaithfullnessgentlenessandselfcontrol.

How do you do that? He asks. How do you just list them off like that?

I shrug. It is just in there. Like the way my kids can sing the alphabet song but don’t quite understand that the elemenopee part is actually a list of the letters l, m, n, o and p. Or like I knew how to spell christian and eternally before I knew how to spell my own name because we learned the I am a C, I am a C-H song in Vacation Bible School, and I had gone to that for literally as long as I could remember.

The fruit is lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessfaithfulnessgentlenessandselfcontrol.

Just because I can sing the song doesn’t mean I understand what they mean, you know? Just because I can sing them faster than anyone I know doesn’t mean I practice them. It just means I can sing them really fast. What’s the point?

What’s the point? I’ve been wondering that about a lot of things, but especially about this new campaign to put prayer back into school. In the state of Georgia there is already the mandatory moment of silence. With only 50 minutes a day, how am I supposed to get anything done when my kids can leave for 15 of them? Can kids get out of my pop quiz with prayer? Does this mean a school day that is 15 minutes longer? I have a lot of logistical questions.

But deeper than that, I am truly wondering, what is the point? How is this going to make our kids know God better? How is this going to make our schools holier? How is this actually going to put Jesus in the cafeteria? I’m not saying I don’t believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I am just saying, why are we fighting for this particular way, when even the Bible tells us there is no law against the way of the spirit.

I too think we need God in school. Desperately need God’s people here. But there will never be a school that outlaws the ways of the Spirit. 

Today is apparently, a day to unite against bullying. People are wearing orange as a way to stand against cruelty, in our words in our actions. And I wonder again, how bullying could possibly be a problem at my school, the one I work in.  In a school with literally hundreds of kids, meeting on Friday morning to praise the Lord, I wonder where are the kids who will also love their neighbor.

Just as I cannot imagine a school with 15 minutes devoted to prayer, I cannot imagine a classroom where everyone is kind, where I don’t have to come down hard on eye-rolls and exasperated breathes when the kid who no one has liked since the third grade starts talking. Do you know how much easier my job would be if just ten of my students were patient and gentle? Do you know what a witness it would be, if just two kids said, we want that kid in our group. We want to love well, the kid with no friends, we want to show him Christ, by laying down our popularity, by putting our reputation on the line. Hey, that girl who no one likes? Let’s invite her to eat lunch with us and see if she wants to go to the football game.

We want, so desperately for our kids to be counter-cultural. We want them to know Jesus. We want them to know what the Bible says. Could there be anything more counter-cultural than a school with no clicks? Than a cafeteria where everyone is kind to each other? You want to counter the teen culture? What if every teen acted like every person they came in contact with bore the image of God? What if every kid who missed three days of school to go on a mission trip came back looking for people who needed loved well? What if bullying wasn’t a thing because the christian kids looked down at their WWJD bracelets and actually did it? Actually aligned themselves with the high school least of these?

What if I wasn’t just able to sing the fruit of the spirit faster than any person I knew? What if I lived in a way that exhibited it, and all of my christian students did to?

I don’t know about the fate of prayer in school, but I do know a little about the fruit of the spirit, and I know of no school who isn’t longing for that fruit to be always on display.

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3 thoughts on “Against Such Things: On Prayer in Schools and Bullying

    • I don’t know that much about this, but I can see how it would come to that pretty easily. I worry about the like wear orange but then bully anyway kind of stuff, you know? But I like that it high lights the issue.

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