See You at the Pole – What Happens when Students Pray
“Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together.
Never do they love one another so well as when they witness
the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer.” – Charles Finney
If you want to see an example of the impact of collaboration and unity in action, take a look at See You at the Pole –the Global Student Day of Prayer. For the past 28 years, students have initiated, organized and led these prayer gatherings, meeting now on the fourth Wednesday of every September. (If you are reading this on the day this was published, that’s today!)
Let’s see how God used the principles of collaboration to build a fruitful movement:
Passionate Vision. A group of 10 teenagers met for discipleship training in a private home near Fort Worth, Texas in 1990. Toward the end of the session, when they talked about reaching their friends at their schools, God moved in their hearts, burdening them with urgency and purpose. They prayed that God would help them know where to begin. When they concluded, they felt God wanted them to go to their campuses right then – even though it was after dark -- and pray for God to work among their classmates, family and nation. Little did they know that their vision would soon spread to others – involving students in all 50 states and 64 countries representing every continent.
In the very first See You at the Pole prayer event in Texas, one school had only one girl praying at her school’s flagpole. When her youth pastor asked her afterward how she felt, she said, “I know that this morning I stood alone, but I know that there were thousands standing with me all across the state.”
Connected Leaders. Youth leaders meet regularly in Texas to pray and plan for how to more effectively reach area youth for Christ. One denominational networking group noted how the 10 teenagers responded to the God’s call to reach their campuses – by praying at the front of their schools. The leaders felt God wanted them to challenge students, at a large summer conference, to follow their peers’ example of united prayer for their school. See You at the Pole was born – 45,000 students from 1,200 schools turned out at 7:00 a.m. on September 12, 1990. That news spread rapidly, through one of our Network national conferences, where leaders naturally started networking their efforts in cities, states, denominations and youth organizations. What was too big for any one organization became possible as many different groups did their parts.
In one city, area youth pastors united to pray through the night before See You at the Pole, in support of the kids that would pray the next morning. At one point, they spread out a large map on the floor and prayed for See You at the Pole as the sun came up over each time zone of the country. "We could visualize God's presence sweeping across our nation, calling youth to join Him on the front lines of the battle to reach our communities and schools. At 6:00 a.m., parents came to serve a light breakfast for kids who wanted to stop by before going to pray.”
Clear Strategy. No adult leaders invented See You at the Pole. God originated it through the students. But the adult leaders recognized God at work and looked to Him to help them discern how they should respond to “fan the flame.” They clarified the vision and the purpose. They decided what they could do to cast the vision to others. They came up with a name, a date, and how to promote it. They found a way to get reports of what happened (an answering machine that got way overloaded!)
Two other overriding things made all the difference. First, the local nature of See You at the Pole meant the leaders knew and trusted each other – mutual trust is a key to successful collaboration. And, second, there was much evidence that students, leaders and parents were seeking the Lord for His power and direction. Unity with the Father led to unity with each other and positioned them to see supernatural results (John 17:21-23).
The resulting impact of collaborating God’s way has been remarkable. George Barna Research verified that over a million students were involved in 1993 in the U.S. and then again, his research in 2000 indicated that over 2 million were involved, in every state and the majority of all high schools. There were 64 other countries who coordinated with us on prayer gatherings, but we have no idea of the attendance. Barna said: “Having more than one million people – primarily people under the age of 18 – participate in such an event, is a major statement about the heart and future of America.”
God has blessed the humble, sacrificial and sometimes courageous attempts of young people to pray at school in unity with others. He loves to hear His children pray in faith, dependence and reverence. God is the One who said (Jer. 33:3), "Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." Imagine what it's like at the "holy switchboard" when a couple million of His children flood Him with heartfelt requests!
Of course, we have no idea of the magnitude of God’s answers to these prayers – but, true to His promises, we can be sure that the results we are hoping for from uniting in prayer, will be “above what we could ask or imagine!” (Ephesians 3:20)