The movement started small, when a group of teenagers from Burleson, Texas, met for a weekend of discipleship at the beginning of 1990. The students were concerned about their friends and went to their schools to pray. At a larger youth rally in June, in Dallas, the students and their youth leaders shared their vision of a yearly event they christened with the now familiar name, See You at the Pole (SYATP).
On September 12, 1990, 45,000 students in four different states gathered at their campus flagpoles to pray for their classmates and campuses. The next September, an estimated one million students gathered to pray. Since then, it’s become an annual prayer gathering, the fourth Wednesday of September.
Yesterday, students participated in SYATP events in states across the U.S. and in more than 60 countries around the world. An estimated one million teenagers met to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school and country to God.
Twitter, Facebook and news outlets were awash in tweets, posts and articles about the event, as students met before school to pray, clasping hands and bowing their heads. The theme for yesterday’s event was “If…”, referencing the Lord’s promise to King Solomon after the dedication of the temple, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (ESV).
This year, SYATP partnered with Claim Your Campus (CYC) and encouraged students to download the ministry’s “Campus Prayer” app. CYC hopes high school and middle school students will connect with others at their school and pray daily throughout the school year. The app helps students set times and places to meet, and it tracks how many users are praying at a given time.
CYC explains its vision this way: “We are looking for at least 15 students at each school to say ‘I’m in,’ committing to pray once a week at your school. Those 15 break down to three students per day, over the five school days each week. We have some excellent tools for you to help make this happen.” With 67,000 schools in the U.S., the group wants to mobilize a million students to pray.
The app suggests daily prayers for issues that affect schools, suggesting that students pray for fellow Christ-followers and for the atmosphere and relationships on campus. Students are encouraged to pray for classmates to find freedom from serious challenges such as depression, substance abuse and pornography.
This ministry began small as well, as eight high school students met weekly more than ten years ago to pray for their school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The movement spread to other schools, and in 2009, the group’s youth pastor, Jeff Eckart, began travelling to other campuses across the country, encouraging students to gather weekly for prayer. Since then, the organization says it’s presented this vision to more than 250,000 students and trained more than 10,000 students to lead campus prayer efforts.
SYATP lists more than 120 different supporting ministries, organizations and denominations – including Focus on the Family. The group explains that student-led prayer before school is perfectly legal, but suggests that students connect with administrators to let them know about the event. They also list various legal groups, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and First Liberty should students need additional legal support.
Next Thursday, October 3, these students have an opportunity to put their prayers into action and share their faith with fellow classmates. Bring Your Bible to School Day is a national, student-led movement. This year more than half a million students are expected to participate as they highlight the source of their faith – the Bible.
Students can find more information, including the official video and stories from students and parents, at BringYourBible.org, where they can also sign up to participate and get free, downloadable guides. Elementary, teen and pastor/parent versions are available. Students can also follow “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The official hashtag is #BringYourBible.