(Encouraging kidz to talk to God)
· *Teaching kids the importance of prayer
· *What it means to pray
· *How to talk to God
Meet Nathan: an average, middle school student who lives in a small midwestern town with his parents and two sisters.
One night at the dinner table, his dad starts a discussion about the importance of prayer. During which, he tells Nathan he needs to be thankful and pray for everything, even when he goes through his day at school. That's when Nathan said, "But dad, we can't pray in school; everybody knows that." And his sisters agreed, "yeah dad, we're not allowed to pray in school."
Unfortunately there are many students across the country who are just like Nathan, they really believe that somehow, it's against the law to pray in school. It's not suprising if you listen to what many voices from both sides of the debate are saying about prayer in school.
All too common phrases like, "They've taken prayer out of the public school." Or, "God has been removed from the class room," Have left many mis-informed and has led to a distorted view of the facts concerning prayer in the public school.
In 1962 the Supreme Court passed a law which states, "The act of leading students in prayer was ruled unconstitutional" (Supreme Court Case Engel v. Vitale, p 422-436 Miller, para. 4)
This case came about when a school district in New Hyde Park, New York directed the School District's principal to cause the following prayer to be said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of each school day: ''Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.'' The conclusion was that prayers led and sanctioned by school officials was prohibited.
Fortunately, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all Americans, both believers and nonbelievers by mandating government neutrality between belief and nonbelief. The government, and the administrators, who run our schools may not lead children in prayer or force them to pray a certain way. However: All children have the right to pray voluntarily before, during, or after school, and non-religious children do not have to pray at all.
In other words during free time at school, whether it's lunch, in between classes, or any other time of the day when students are able to talk to your friends you can also talk to God, and you can talk to your friends about God. Kids all over the country are taking advantage of opportunities to tell their classmates about God's love. When your friends are talking about their newest CD, I-pod, or Web-Site, you can use that situation to tell them the good news of Jesus.
Not only will the school allow you to pray during these times but, in case you're wondering, you can read your Bible in school as well. In fact you'll find a copy of the Bible in just about every school and public Library across the nation. No one in America has outlawed prayer or the Bible, not even in the public school.
Personal prayer never has and never could be outlawed in public schools. The first amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to religious freedom in this country. Students can pray and read the Bible. The law is clear on this point.
Religious activity in the public schools has been growing in recent years. In the last several decades many religious groups have placed increased interest in student evangelism and have established thousands of prayer and Bible study clubs in the public schools. Such activity is protected, as it should be, by the Equal Access Amendment, which guarantees students the right to form religious clubs to the same extent they have the right to participate in other extra-curricular activities They can't make you pray, but they won't keep you from praying either.
This case first came to court in 1962 and twenty-eight years later there was a group of teens who gathered for a retreat. During the retreat they felt burdened to pray for their fellow students. They gathered around the flagpoles of three separate schools to pray. The teens prayed for their friends, the school, and school leaders. God birthed from this the idea what has come to be known as, "See You At the Pole." On September 12, 1990, 45,000 teenagers gathered at the flagpole in four different states to pray before school started that morning. One-year later one million students from Boston to California gathered at 7:00 a.m. to pray prior to the start of school. This ministry has continued to grow over the years since. Now more than three million students from coast-to-coast and around the world gather to pray one day a year.
Students not only meet once a year at the flagpoles of their schools but there are more and more school football teams that will gather for student-led and student-initiated prayer at high school football games. This shows that there is a desire to be able to pray at school. The Congress may have removed the traditional time of prayer that was observed in the classroom but students have found other ways to include prayer and God in their school day. Proving, like Daniel, if you want to pray nothing can stand in your way!
Also Check out See you at the pole (syatp.org)
*Visit The National Archives Experience.gov to learn more about:
· The Free Exercise Clause and The 14 Amendment
· Establishment Clause
· The Equal Access Amendment
· And the Constitution of The United States at: