Summertime for churches is similar to summertime in schools.  It is a time of recharging, but summer is also a critical planning time.  Little happens in the fall or spring without intense planning in the summers, which is why this is the perfect time to discuss formal plans for Second Sunday School Safety Prayer (or S4 Prayer).  Perhaps, it can become a tradition that spreads.

This monthly call to prayer originally arose after Sandy Hook, but this is only partly about school shootings, which are worst-case scenarios. On a practical level, school safety is a more complex community issue, and the acronym S.C.H.O.O.L.S. describes it perfectly: safe, caring, healthy, open, orderly, learning, spaces.  All parents, educators, and students want safe schools, and all communities and faith-based organizations want S.C.H.O.O.L.S., too.  Common ground in 2022?

Parents first want to know that the school is safe, caring, and healthy.  Only then can S.C.H.O.O.L.S. be open and welcoming places that foster high standards of behavior to ensure orderly, open learning spaces where children can flourish. Second Sunday School Safety Prayer (S4 Prayer), therefore, is about much more than simply praying for protection from evil people; it’s about praying for the essence of your local schools and entire community.  

Like it or not, your local schools are a perfect reflection of your community, much like Wal-Mart.  Ninety-five percent of your families attend local public schools, and I bet 95% shop at Wal-Mart; they both serve everyone who shows up.  You might not like what you see, but what you see in the mirror is usually the best you got!  Schools (and Wal-Mart) only reflect what is in the mirror, so if we desire to see change, those changes must also be reflected in the whole community. 

Praying regularly for your local schools’ safety, therefore, is prayer for everything that matters.  Your children, your parents, your community, and your culture.  Parents want S.C.H.O.O.L.S. wherein all children feel loved, and all children graduate adult-ready. This only happens when communities are in alignment.  Even in 2022, nothing can align a community faster than the involvement (or indifference) of its faith-based organizations. For positive change, we must prioritize consistent, targeted prayer for our schools on a truly broad scale. Schools cannot make this happen.  Only the faith community can organize this, and in an age when we cannot seem to agree on anything, praying for school safety seems like an easy start.

Praying monthly for S.C.H.O.O.L.S. may not seem like much, but whenever we pray for people, our attitudes often change first as we think and feel differently about them.  From that, relationships grow, and lives change. In an age when no one seems to agree on anything, we need to find something that brings us together.  Ultimately, however, we should not pray for S.C.H.O.O.L.S. because it unites us or makes us feel good.  We should do it because prayer works, and when our local faith community agrees in prayer about something so important – in an age when agreement is so rare – nothing is impossible.

America has certainly rediscovered the importance of public schools, but instead of seeking solutions, we have turned schoolyards into political battle zones. Where are the peacemakers if they are not in our churches?  Perhaps, a simple prayer every second Sunday of the Month for the safety of our schools is a good first step because like it or not, public schools matter to all of us, even if we do not like what we see in that mirror.  So, please pray this second Sunday for the safety of our schools in the upcoming year – and please plan now to do this every month during the school year. Let’s decide now to make S4 Prayer a monthly tradition.  Who knows what we will see in the mirror (or at Wal-Mart) a year from now? 

Tom Deighan is author of Shared Ideals in Public Schools. You may email him at and read past articles at