I began writing Collect Prayers the second week of March, around the time that the CDC recommended no gatherings of 50 people or more. At the time, I wrote them in response to specific requests, from both personal friends and strangers on social media asking for words that would help them to cope with their fears.
I didn’t imagine I’d keep writing prayers, but new things kept happening that demanded new prayers: a prayer for grocers managing panic-buying shoppers, a prayer for medical professionals overwhelmed by the countless sick, a prayer for anxious children at bedtime.
I wrote prayers for dashed plans, untimely deaths, single people, and wearied parents. I wrote a prayer for the beleaguered and the irritated and another for new mercies. I wrote a prayer for geographically separated worship, and, most needfully, I wrote a prayer against the pestilence that stalks in the dark and the plague that destroys at midday.
I even wrote a prayer for a neighbor behaving like an idiot, because I figured we all had a neighbor who fit that description, wherever we may live or whatever our political persuasion.
The following is a collection of prayers related to the start of school this fall. I tried to imagine the sorts of things that parents and children, along with teachers and school administrators, might be feeling in light of the unpredictable realities that face them in the weeks to come.
My heart goes out to all of them, and while I can’t promise that these prayers will magically or immediately change their circumstances, my hope is that in praying them they will sense, in palpable and deeply personal ways, the care-filled love of their Good Shepherd who knows them by name.
Practically speaking, these prayers could memorized, they could be printed out and posted in a place that they’ll be easily seen, or they could be reworked from the first person “I and me” to the second person “you and yours,” or even to the third person “he and she and they,” depending on who is praying it.
The goal, in the end, isn’t a perfect mark for praying it every day. The goal is simply to keep praying as one can, when one can, trusting always that the Holy Spirit prays in and for us when we can no longer find the right words or even the will to pray.
May God bless you as you entrust yourself and others to the Lord in prayer.
A Prayer for Children Going to School
Dear Jesus, you who promise to be with me always, I pray that you would be with me today as I go to school. Bless my going and my coming. Bless my learning and my playing. Please protect my heart from fear. Please keep me safe. Please give me good friends. Give me joy this day and thank you for loving me from head to toe. In your name. Amen.
A Prayer for Children Schooling at Home
Dear Jesus, you who promise to be with me always, I pray that you would be with me at home today as I do my school work. Please help me to do my best, help me not to feel alone, and help me to be patient with my family. Give me joy this day and thank you for loving me from head to toe. In your name. Amen.
A Prayer for High School and College Students
O Lord, you who promise to be with me always, be with me this day as I begin my schoolwork. Keep me in health, I pray, and keep me from harm. In all that I do and say, may I love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, and may I love my neighbor as myself, so that I might fulfill your purposes for me and your calling on my life as a student. In Christ’s name. Amen.
A Prayer for Parents
O Lord, you who promise to guide us through the wilderness and to protect us through the storm, we ask that you would make us wise where we cannot clearly see the way forward, make us brave where we feel afraid, make us strong in the face of our weakness, and make possible what to us seems impossible, so that we might joyfully entrust ourselves and our children into your tender care in these trying and troubling times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A Prayer for Teachers
O Lord, you who have called and equipped the teachers in our community, we pray for them today. Watch over them, provide for them, guide them, sustain them. May you be their sun and shield, so that they might do the work that you have entrusted to them and sense your care in these uncertain times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A Prayer for School Administrators
O God, you who have promised wisdom to all who would ask it, we pray today for school administrators, that you would grant them clarity of mind, unity of spirit, strength of will, a heart of wisdom and the gift of your truth-bearing Spirit, so that they might be enabled to make decisions that lead to the flourishing of their teachers, staff, and students and to the wellbeing of the whole community. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
For families who may want additional helps for prayer this fall, W. David O. Taylor and his wife Phaedra created a set of illustrated prayer cards that offer both adults and children an opportunity to pray in light of key themes in the Psalms—themes such as honesty and community, sadness and joy, justice and enemies, life and death, and so on. Find them here.
This article originally appeared on the website of the Anglican Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others.