As students and administration begin their school year in western North Carolina, they aren’t the only ones who have prepared for this fall. 

Both the Macon Baptist Association and Carolina Baptist Association organized local churches to participate in prayer walks that resulted in more than 450 people praying at more than 30 public and private schools during the month of August. 

“My biggest burden was for the safety — and for the wisdom and the knowledge of our kids and for our staff,” said Keith Ashe, pastor of Coweeta Baptist Church in Otto. With all that’s happened across the nation, he believes “prayer is one of the greatest things we can give our kids at this time.” 

That’s what started his idea for prayer walking at schools in Macon County. He saw the impact monthly prayer walks had on his own church and knew it could make a difference. More than 20 churches participated in the first-time event in Macon County at 11 schools.

“I encouraged our people and our group to pray for our students, [from] the very first thing when they get on the bus, for the bus drivers’ safety, and just all the way through [their day],” said Ashe, who prayed at Union Academy.

“I believe for some of our kids, especially if it’s their first time there and they’re new, even just going to the cafeteria is a challenge for them because they have no one to sit with and no friends,” Ashe continued. “And so, we pray that God would just surround each one of the kids and bring that comfort to them during that time.” 

Prayer is one of the greatest things we can give our kids at this time.

Currie Tilley, the associational mission strategist at the Carolina Baptist Association, shares a similar heart for prayer walking after seeing God move through it in his former neighborhood. 

He helped over 22 public schools be prayed for in Henderson County, along with the schools’ central office and bus garage. While several teams prayed outside, some administrators allowed others inside to pray at the doors of classrooms. 

“We had a couple of other teams that set up outside of the school a back-to-school encouragement time for teachers, where they gave gifts and offered to pray for them,” Tilley added.

“My wife and I actually had the opportunity on Friday (Aug. 26) to do a prayer drive around the county and went to every one of our schools and prayed on campus. We are thankful to say every one of our schools in our county was prayed for onsite at least twice.”

Tilley has found these prayer walks to be vital and encourages those physically able to do so.

“We could, for instance, certainly pray for all of our schools sitting in our offices or from home,” Tilley said. “But when you go … there’s just something different about visually seeing that I think the Holy Spirit uses to prompt the way that you pray.” 

By seeing teachers preparing for the school year on a teacher workday, standing next to the lineup of buses that will go to children’s neighborhoods and watching students and their parents enter the school for orientation, both Ashe and Tilley were able to know specifically what — and who — to pray for, and those prayers opened doors for more gospel and mission opportunities.

Because prayer walks can indeed lead to answered prayers. 

An answered prayer

During the prayer walk, one of the volunteers walked up to a principal and asked her how many staff she was short. The principal shared a number, and the volunteer responded, “Well, I’m going to pray specifically for that.”

Within the next day or two, the Macon Baptist Association received a call from a teacher in another county, wanting to know if any of Macon’s schools had job openings. 

“Why they called the association, you know, God directed them to that,” Ashe said. “It’s just amazing what the prayer does for our kids.”

Although schools are already in session, it’s not too late for you to start prayer walking. Tilley suggested these prayer points:

1.     Pray for the protection of schools over physical harm.

2.    Pray for encouragement for the administration. 

3.    Pray for the students who are believers in the school to have eyes to see and compassion for those around them to know the Lord, and that they would share their faith boldly.

by Lizzy Haseltine, NC Baptist Contributing Writer