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On Sunday morning you were asked to pray for a school in your local area. You were encouraged (if you are able) to do a prayer walk around (or near) the school to pray for the students, staff, administration, and board that oversee that school. You were invited to converse with God about what he would like for that school this fall.

Today, I'm doubling down on that request. Please pray for our schools and all those who are involved in them.

Today I had conversations with two teachers. One who upon going into the classroom realized just how different it will be to have young children in the same space to learn, but with no opportunity for them to truly interact with each other. Another described the feeling of this upcoming school year as mourning a loss.

Their grief is not a criticism of decisions made. It isn't about the number of students in the classroom. It is not a political statement. It is simply a recognition that the learning environment this year will be far from ideal and will, in many ways, be incredibly challenging for everyone.

As I thought about what they will be facing, I considered the dialogue in offices around cubicles. It is known that cubicle setups "make sense in certain situations and applications, but it is not about communication, collaboration or problem solving. Those are things that occur in meeting rooms, break rooms, and cafeterias." ( "Employee satisfaction and productivity are affected quite negatively by distractions in the workplace caused by cubicle setups." (Forbes magazine) A Harvard Business Review study of different kinds of workspaces determined that "Workers in cubicles with high partitions were the most miserable." Our students won't be in cubicles, but the effect of constant social distancing and minimal cooperation and collaboration will cause some of the challenges people who design offices have been wrestling with for decades.

And that is why we need to be in prayer. Prayer for teachers who will be dealing with the load of new administrative expectations, the load of wanting to provide the best education for our kids in what is far from ideal conditions, and the load of trying to support students who will be struggling in this new environment. Prayer for administrators who are trying to balance the well being of teachers, students, and families. Prayer for the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of the students who will be trying to learn in these challenging conditions. Prayer for the parents and guardians who want the best for their kids and will be trying to support them and advocating for them.

This fall, the call to love one another (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for a reminder of what that looks like) and submit to one another and bear with one another will be vitally important. May we - those who claim to be followers of the way of Jesus - be first in line to live this out within our schools (and on social media!). And may we pray for the presence of the Spirit to accomplish things within our school communities that are beyond our hopes and expectations given the conditions. Our God can do great things. May we look to Jesus with hope for the year that is to come!

Read "A Back-to-School Prayer"

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