Student-Led Prayer Movement Marks 20th Year

Continuing on the prayer tradition that began 19 years ago with a small student-led group in Texas, hundreds of thousands of students around the nation gathered at the flagpoles of their local schools Wednesday morning to pray for a spiritual awakening across campuses and countries.

While most of the local "See You At The Pole" rallies drew just a few dozen students, some drew many more, such as the one held Tuesday evening at Liberty University, where nearly 3,000 students gathered.

In total, around two million students in all 50 states participate in the prayer rally each year. Last year, SYATP reported around three million participants across the United States, joined by students in more 20 nations, including Canada, Korea, Japan, and Turkey.

"The hope for this campus and the hope for this country and world is God," commented Pastor Dwayne Carson, who also serves as Liberty's vice president of Spiritual Development, according to the school's newspaper. "We need Him to come through for us."

This year's theme, "Engage: Go and Pray," was inspired by the first sentence that appears in 2 Kings 22:13, which records the words of King Josiah upon hearing from the Book of Law.

"Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found," Josiah had ordered.

With this in mind, SYATP participants prayed to intercede for their leaders, their countries, their schools, their friends, and their families.

"For 20 years, we have seen this day serve as a springboard for unity for teenagers on their secondary and college campuses," commented Paul Fleischmann, president of the National Network of Youth Ministries, which coordinates SYATP promotion.

"Challenging youth to take leadership on their campus is always a good idea. It's important to remember that though it has a 20-year history, it's fresh to today's students," he added.

The first SYATP was held in the Ft. Worth suburb of Burleson, Texas, in 1990, when more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four different states to pray before the start of school.

Since then, news of the prayer movement has spread and reached out to more students across more campuses.

It has also drawn support from churches nationwide with many holding "Campus Challenge Sunday" commissioning services the weekend before the annual event.

Each year, SYATP is held on the fourth Wednesday of September.

In Australia, where the new school year official began in late January/early February, SYATP was observed this year on May 21.

Next year's U.S. rallies will be held on Sept. 22, 2010.

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