Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Theological Reflections on See You At The Pole

This morning, thousands of students across our nation participated in See You At The Pole. From the SYATP website:

See You at the Pole, the global day of student prayer, began in 1990 as a grass roots movement with ten students praying at their school. Twenty years later, millions pray on their campuses on the fourth Wednesday in September.
See You at the Pole is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God.

SYATP has had its proponents and detractors over the years. I don't want to fall into either of those camps with this post. Instead, I want to offer five Biblical passages that elicit questions and theological musings related to prayer, events, and youth ministry that I hope offer some perspective on SYATP.

Pray continually: 1 Thessalonians 5:17. What would it look like practice having a posture of prayer, instead of making prayer a one-time event? Of course, there are specific times when prayer is emphasized--Jesus models this often, leaving the busyness of ministry in order to be alone with the Father. Yet the relational dynamics of prayer and the constant presence of the Spirit allow for us to be praying as we go throughout life.

Praying in public: Matthew 6:5-6. When, if ever, is it appropriate to prayer publicly? What are the possible motives--both Godly and selfish--for public prayers? When Jesus says that the religious leaders who pray on the street corners "have their reward in full," he's pointing out that the fruit of their actions will reveal their motives. Making prayer a public spectacle does not seem to be God's heart. On the other hand, Daniel doesn't seem to mind praying in such a way that others can see, praying three times a day with his windows wide open towards Jerusalem in Daniel 6.

Praying rightly: Matthew 6:7-13. Is there a right way to pray? Is there a wrong way? Are some prayers better than others? In saying that we shouldn't babble while praying, then offering the Lord's Prayer as a model, Jesus is pointing out that not all prayers are made equal. What are the best ways to pray, and how do certain methods and words affect one's heart and relationship with the Lord?

Don't quench the Spirit: 1 Thessalonians 5:19. What is God doing in this moment? Maybe you're not a big fan of SYATP, but that doesn't mean God can't lead someone to a closer relationship with Him through it. If God leads a student to publicly pray with their peers, who am I to stop them, or Him?

Pray for the good of the city: Jeremiah 29:7. What are ways our church can bless our city? How can our city prosper? Even in the midst of exile, God calls His people to seek the good of the city where they lived. This "good" didn't necessarily mean "everyone has become God-followers" or "all administrators and politicians do everything to accommodate our beliefs." Our politic agendas must be motivated by the values of the kingdom of God. The blessings and peace of the kingdom of God might shine through people who aren't necessarily Christians (though we must pray that they respond to the Gospel too!).

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