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Starting the new school year off with an upward focus

Though the first days of school are here, we parents are likely still swimming in a sea of check lists and to-do items as we head into the new academic year. We’ve purchased all (or maybe most) of the school supplies, met our teachers or double-checked the class schedule, laid out that first-day uniform, prepared for pick up and drop off, planned for school meals and snacks, labeled and filled water bottles, and set backpacks by the door. We have had conversations with our students encouraging them for the new year: “this is going to be a great year for you,” “you’re going to grow so much,” “I can’t wait to hear all about your teacher(s) and the friends you meet.” Or perhaps we parents are not feeling quite as organized and prepared. We may not have the lists or all the things ready, but we know there is much to be done. This time of year often feels full of scrambling and juggling and striving to adjust or re-adjust to a new rhythm of life. Yet amid the hectic pace and heavy demands of the season, I hear the humble yet earnest example of a mother from long ago calling to me. Her story is a reminder to me—to all of us—to set our eyes and trust in Something, Someone, above all that fills our everyday realities and planners. 

We know her story well—Hannah, a married woman with no children, desperate to have one. She lays out her plea before her God, and He responds by blessing her with the one for whom she prayed, Samuel. And as she promised in her plea to God for a son, Hannah dedicated Samuel to the LORD, and he grew up in “the house of LORD” under the care of the priest Eli. First Samuel 1:27-28 records Hannah’s words, “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”  

I think many of us can relate to Hannah’s parenting posture. We, too, want to “give” our kids to the LORD, dedicating them to a life of Jesus-centered faith. This posture is perhaps what has led many of us to partner with Worthington Christian School, as an educational environment that seeks to orient every area of student life—arts, athletics, academics—around the ways and Word of the Creator God. But we cannot overlook what precedes Hannah’s posture of committing her child to the LORD: prayer.  

If I had to guess, Hannah’s prayers for her son did not stop when he was born, or even when she presented him to Eli. Though her role in the story fades, I imagine that her prayers for him continued even during the long days and years that he spent outside of her home. I believe we read the fruit of her prayers in Samuel 3. The chapter tells the story of young Samuel when he hears a voice one night that he assumes is Eli calling for him. With Eli’s help, Samuel finally realizes that it is the voice of the eternal God that is calling to him. Samuel, a young boy whose life is marked by a prayerful mother, has a powerful and personal encounter with the living God. This encounter set Samuel on a course to become a righteous and incredibly influential prophet of God, and at a time in history in which “the word of the LORD was rare.” God spoke through Samuel to change an entire nation. What power there is in a praying parent.  

As we step fully into the adventure that awaits us all in this new school year, may we hear and hold near Hannah’s modeled invitation to prayerful parenting. May we remember to continuously look beyond the present demands and tasks, raise our hearts to the Eternal One, and carry our children in prayer. May we extend our prayers to those who live out their sacred calling to lead and guide our children through education. And may the LORD reveal Himself to us this year. 

(For specific ways to pray this school year, Worthington Christian School offers a downloadable prayer guide with five specific things to pray for your student, along with Scripture related to each prayer point.)

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