By Steven Norris

     I was privileged to be present at one of our partner schools as the Griffin Spalding County Schools came back on Tuesday. Along with other volunteers, we were there to hype the students up and help them get the year started on solid footing. It is in that spirit that I offer this prayer and invite our community to join me in praying for the school year ahead.

     God of all wisdom and knowledge, we come to you at the beginning of a new school year full of varied emotions. We acknowledge our expectations and hope for the ways that you are working in the lives of our students. At the same time, we name our fears, anxieties, and concerns for the obstacles and challenges that they will undoubtedly face.

     We pray for the student that is coming back to school full of energy and excitement. We ask that you might fuel their thirst for knowledge and help them continue to grow in their understanding of this beautiful world that you have created.

     We pray for the student who is worried about the year ahead — who is fearful that they may not be able to measure up or has been told that they are not good, smart, pretty, or popular enough to be successful.

     We pray peace over the student that walked in on the first day with a hoodie hiding their face and eyes firmly fixed on the ground in front of them — who doesn’t feel like they fit in and doesn’t have a group of friends to welcome them back.

     We pray assurance over the student who is apart from family for the first time and is overwhelmed by the experience.

     We pray resilience over the student who sits silently in the back of the room with sweaty palms, hoping that the teacher doesn’t call on them, exposing to the whole class that they are struggling to keep up.

     We pray for the student who believes that their worth comes from success and good grades. May they come to know that value does not derive from performance but from God.

     We pray sustenance over the student whose favorite part of the day is breakfast and lunch because these are the only guaranteed meals in their day.

     We pray for student drivers — that you might give protection and keep them from harm.

     We pray discernment over student athletes that have to juggle the demands of academics with the responsibility of practice and competition.

     We pray rest over students who are forced to juggle academics and work because their financial contribution is necessary for their family’s survival.

     We pray for students who don’t have a stable home to return to at the end of the day — that they may find their true home in you.

     We pray confidence over students who cling to teachers because they crave affirmation and support that is lacking in other areas of their lives.

     Remind us all that behind each face in the classroom is a whole host of circumstances about which we know nothing and challenges we cannot imagine. Give them strength, courage, and peace as you remind them that they are yours. Amen.