Today was "See you at the Pole." Did you take the time to go pray at your flag pole? We have several schools in the area and my husband headed out early this morning to go pray with the students.
This program is unique as it is all student run. Students meet outside at the flag pole and pray for their school, peers, community, and in general for God to show up in mighty ways over the school year. For some student's it is a challenge to stand up for their faith and for other's they have so much boldness to proclaim how much they love Jesus!
Here are some facts on See you at the Pole:
How did See You at the Pole™ start?
See You at the Pole™ was inspired by the initiative of student in one youth group in Burleson, Texas, early in 1990. The teenagers felt led to go and pray at night at several area schools during a weekend youth group retreat. They had a profound time of prayer, and their experience was shared with thousands of other youth from across Texas in the form of a challenge in June 1990 at a large conference. More than 56,000 students on 1,200 campuses in Texas and three other states were documented at the first See You at the Pole™ in September of that year. The movement continued to grow nationally and internationally from 1991 on.
Is See You at the Pole™ legal?
The answer to this question is a firm "Yes!" The right of students to gather and pray outside of instructional time—while at school—is clearly a Constitutionally protected form of free speech. This has been affirmed in regard to "Equal Access Clubs" by the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision inWestside Community Schools v. Mergens. And in 1995, President Bill Clinton directed then-Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, to prepare guidelines for what the government deemed "appropriate religious expression on school grounds." These guidelines were issued and upheld by the government several times since. In them, See You at the Pole™ is specifically named as legal, appropriate, and protected:
"Students may also participate in before or after school events with religious content, such as "see you at the flag pole" gatherings, on the same terms as they may participate in other noncurriculum activities on school premises. School officials may neither discourage nor encourage participation in such an event."
It should be noted that among the legal groups which affirmed the legality of See You at the Pole™ by drafting the USDOE guidelines were the Christian Legal Society, American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, National Council of Churches, National Association of Evangelicals, and People for the American Way, as well as six others. For a complete list of the Drafting Committee and Endorsing Organizations, contact the National Network of Youth Ministries or call (858) 451-1111.
If students who are praying are told by someone from the administration (or otherwise in authority at the school) to stop praying during See You at the Pole™, we recommend that you obey that authority and move your prayer time off campus. See You at the Pole™ is about praying, not arguing about your legal rights. You may want to bring a parent, youth worker, or other adult with you to speak to the authority later. If necessary, you may want to contact a legal group who can clarify your rights for the school official.
How can my church support See You at the Pole™ and our students?
Churches throughout the nation are seeking to support Christian students as they step up up to be leaders at their schools. There are a number of prayer strategies churches are using to support teenagers.
Many churches set aside the weekend before See You at the Pole™ to identify and pray for Christian teachers and students in their worship services. Some call this "Campus Challenge Sunday." Resources, including a "Challenge Sunday Tool Kit," are available from The Challenge Alliance.
Many adults have "prayed ahead" by participating in the Campus Prayer Journey, meeting to walk and pray at "every elementary, secondary, and collegiate campus in the United States and Canada" on the night before See You at the Pole™.
You can go on "prayer drives" in your city, praying for schools as you drive past them. Alternatively, you can pray for schools as you drive past them during your daily routine.
Moms in Touch is an international ministry of mothers meeting an hour a week to pray for the schools their children attend.
There is nothing more important to the people and ministries supporting See You at the Pole™ than to be obedient to God's will and consistent with the teachings of the Bible.
Of the few comments of concern about public prayer and See You at the Pole™ we have received, mot focus on the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, quoting Jesus Christ:
 "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Some have said of this passage, "Jesus is saying here that prayer should be a private matter between God and the one praying." We would respectfully disagree that this is the concern of what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 6.
Jesus clearly seems to say that the MOTIVE of those He condemns in this passage is "that they may be seen of men." One should be extremely cautious about judging the motives of teenagers who pray at See You at the Pole™ is "for show," even though it is in public. To the contrary, one of the stories from a past year was this eyewitness account of a young girl in Massachusetts:
At an elementary school near Boston, a little girl was at her school's flagpole all by herself. After some time, her principal went out to where she was and asked her, "What are you doing?"
The girl replied, "I'm here for meet me at the pole."
"But there's no one else here, " the principal pointed out.
"Oh, no," the girl protested, "I'm here to meet God."
The young girl "got it"! Her testimony was that she was praying to meet with God, not "to be seen of men." And yet her prayer was public.
It should be pointed out that any public prayer runs the risk of being "for show" or a "display of righteousness" that falls within the condemnation of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus Himself prayed in public. So did the Apostle Paul and others. Any student of God's Word could cite specific references. A careful review of the Scripture would not lead one to the conlcusion that public prayer in and of itself is unbiblical. Would anyone condemn Rick Warren for leading prayer at the inauguration of a president? Or the chaplain of the Senate for opening a session in prayer, even though it may be broadcast on C-SPAN?
In the words and context of what Jesus said, does it not seem clear that he is condemning an attitude of the HEART, not prayer in public as a whole?
We would be the first to echo that condemnation. We don't believe God would be at all pleased if someone prayed with a proud heart. We encourage all those who participate in See You at the Pole™ to do so in the humility that comes from wisdom (James 1:13b).
We also believe God does not want See You at the Pole™ to end with a one-day event, but to be used as a springboard for students to unite together to bless and pray for their school. For more information, please read the answer to "We don't want this to end! What can we do after See You at the Pole™?"
Tonight our youth group will be meeting up with a couple other youth groups for a post "Saw you at the Pole" rally! :) It should be a fun time for the kids to really grasp the importance of praying for their schools! :)