That more than 700 people of all ages gathered at schools throughout Coffee County on a Sunday afternoon to pray is significant.
That it was on a stormy afternoon—and still more than 700 people gathered at the schools is significant.
Those thoughts overwhelmed me as I sloshed in the rain from school to school striving to capture on camera the significance of what was happening as hundreds gathered to spiritually blanket our schools in prayer.
Daleville Baptist Church conducted a prayer walk through Daleville City Schools before the school year started.
All seven schools in the Dale County School System had a prayer walk organized by a local church in the respective communities this year. The program was started by the now DCS Superintendent Ben Baker more than 10 years ago when he was the Ariton School principal.
Sunday’s Annual School Prayer Walk was sponsored by the Coffee County Baptist Women’s Mission.
The prayer walks have been held for at least three decades by concerned, caring people gathering at all the public schools in the the cities of Daleville, Enterprise and Elba and the Coffee and Dale County School Systems to walk the school halls praying without ceasing.
For students who have difficult home lives, cuts in school funding, pressure to pass standardized tests and school bullying—those are among the issues I heard being prayed for as hundreds of all ages walked quietly through the school halls pausing at classrooms and lockers to bow in prayer.
“We want our children and our school personnel to know that we cover them every day in prayer,” is how longtime prayer walk organizer Peggy Stroud put it. “On this day we gather as a community to ask God’s blessing on them throughout the year.”
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” said Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Kerry Mitchell, quoting from the Bible book of James, chapter 5, verse 16.
“Amen,” replied some of the parents, grandparents and educators standing on the steps of New Brockton High School.
Periods of spiritual awakening and revival in this nation are documented in history books. Noteworthy is the fact that spiritual revival in a whole region comes when first there is individual revival such as people prayer walking through counties—one school at a time.
My heart still smiles as I remember a then 84 year old retired pastor at last year’s prayer walk through Dauphin Junior High School. He thought the annual prayer walk was a good idea, he said shaking his head, but he remembered a day gone by when prayer was a way of life and pastors were welcomed inside the schoolhouse walls.
“Then came Madalyn O’Hair,” he said, referring to the founder of the American Atheists who won the court battle to remove prayer from public schools in 1962.
It’s easy to blame Ms. O’Hair for the multitude of ills that befall society today but I subscribe more to the theory that it is not a single watershed event but instead a million little baby steps that are the cause.
Sort of like in the the age-old story about the frog being slowly boiled to death.
The short version of the tale is that if a frog is suddenly plopped into boiling water, it will jump out.
But if that same frog is put in warm water which is then brought to a boil slowly, the frog will not perceive imminent danger and will be cooked to death.
As we gradually adjust to—and accept—a negative environment, we open the door to a disastrous outcome through slow erosion. That means change must begin with us.
“We are very lucky we live in a place where we can pray for the schools, in the schools,” is how Lee Street Baptist Church Minister of Youth and Children John Miller summed up the event.
Yes, Pastor, we are very lucky indeed.
Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.