By Renee Putnam
“Since we live by the Spirit, we are to keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
The woman turned one more time to wave. My mom could see tears in the young mother’s eyes as she walked closer.
“You just left your baby back there, didn’t you?” my mom said to the woman.
“Mmhmm,” the young mom replied as she nodded her head.
It was difficult to see the woman’s features through her own prickling tears. My mom walks by the school on her regular prayer route, and today was special. It was the first day of school and my mom could see all the new backpacks, best clothes, and excited kindergartners lining up outside. But, seeing the kids spaced apart and wearing masks made my mom a little misty-eyed too.
“If this helps,” my mom said, “I often walk by this school and pray. I pray for the kids, teachers, staff, custodians, and parents–everybody!”
The young mother said, “Yes, thank you, that does help!”
A couple of weeks earlier, a woman was entering the school building as my mom was walking by. As they exchanged greetings, the woman told my mom, a stranger just passing by, she was an Intervention teacher. Knowing how overwhelmed all the teachers must be feeling, my mom offered, “Well, I am a grandma who walks by this school and prays. I will pray for you!” The teacher straightened her shoulders and said emphatically, “Thank you! Thank you! That helps!” She entered the building with a little more confidence in her eyes and her posture.
When I asked what she prays, Mom answered, “Often, I pray Scripture verses or maybe sing a song, but sometimes I do not know what to pray so I simply says, ‘Jesus!’”
This picture is of my mom just a couple of years ago. She was saying, “I am a Ninja Warrior! I have been training for this!” And she does—she walks and stays fit so she can play with her grand kids and great-grand kids.
Much like physical training, she trains spiritually through prayer. So, when this grandma prays, she knows she is being heard. The school she is praying for is 850 miles away from us in Plymouth, Minnesota, but somehow knowing she is there, praying, helps me, too.
“We were made for such a time as this!” my mom said. She challenged me to do the same—to pray for our school kids. She issued this challenge to grandmas, grandpas, singles, parents, neighbors, sisters, and brothers to step into our calling and pray. We may not encounter a young mother on the sidewalk, but knowing there are people out there praying inspires hope in all who will guide our young people this school year.
There were no easy decisions for this school year; for parents, administrators, school districts, teachers–for all involved in educating our children in safe spaces–this is new frontier. Our prayers for God’s presence and protection, for grace with one another, for encouragement and hope are so needed. For all of us who live near, walk or drive by schools each day, or from wherever we may be, may we send our heartfelt prayers to God lifting up this school year and commending it to God’s care.