Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. – James 5:13-16
One of my favorite TV commercials that usually plays this time of the year is from Staples. The commercial opens with a view of the office supply store’s shelves, filled with school supplies. The music playing in the background is the great Andy Williams singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” As the commercial begins, there is a dad joyfully dancing in the aisle, collecting school supplies, while his children walk behind with their heads hanging low. It is a picture of what is the normal return to the school year. However, that commercial is not playing this year.
This year, COVID-19 has changed our normal back-to-school routine. Now students are hoping to return to school and parents are nervous about summer ending. As I have spoken with many families in many school districts, I hear the same concerns. Parents are worried about the child’s education, the child’s safety, and anxious about how school will look as the weeks progress. I join these parents in their worries. I know our teachers, our school staff, and leadership are worried and anxious too.
What do we, as a people of faith, do in times like these? As Thomas Paine once wrote, “These are times that try men’s (all) souls.” I believe that in times like this, we are called to prayer. Prayer is a gift that draws us close to God. It allows us a quiet moment to lift our concerns before the creator of the universe, knowing that God listens to His creation. Prayer allows us the time to ask for the things we truly need, like wisdom (James 1: 5), peace (Philippians 4:7), healing (James 5:15), and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). Prayer is a gift for the people of God. Over the next few weeks, students will be starting back to school, some online and some in person. Teachers are returning to the building they have not been in since March. Parents will be anxious. I want to encourage you today to pray for our schools. Pray for our students, parents, faculty and staff. We have the gift of prayer; let us use it for our schools. I can think of no better way to be a good neighbor than to pray for such a significant part of our community. After all, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship