God's presence in school
A Christian Science perspective: People can take their awareness of God's presence anywhere they go. Prayers don't need to be voiced out loud in order to be legitimate.
A favorite Bible promise, found right toward the beginning of the book, is: "My presence shall go with thee" (Exodus 33:14). No matter where a person goes, right there is God, fully and entirely. The presence of God – whom the Bible also calls Love and Spirit – is truly an ever-presence. This divine presence never could be bounded or excluded by any thing, opinion, or decree.
While it's appropriate that theology is not to be legislated by any government, that doesn't mean that this presence of God can somehow be excluded from a school building. One's knowledge and awareness of God resides within – a person takes it wherever he or she goes.
Prayers in school certainly don't need to be voiced out loud in order to be legitimate. The inspired ideas in a prayer, silently and secretly embraced in one's heart, are quite sufficient. Jesus stated, "[T]hy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).
There are many classrooms in which the teachers do more praying than the students – and rightly so. Teaching is a demanding job, and to be able to turn wholeheartedly to the Spirit that is Love is a great advantage, both to the teachers and students. There's a richness in a classroom where praying is quietly happening, and it's seen in growth, care for others, and a hunger to learn.
When a child leaves home for school, there may be times, because of the separation, when both the parent and student feel a bit unsure – even downright worried. Again, "My presence shall go with thee." The presence of God is there solidly wherever a child goes. While a parent may be separated from a student, divine Love can never be detached from anyone. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, said it so clearly: "Where God is we can meet, and where God is we can never part" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 131).
Recently, a friend was unjustly accused of plagiarism. She tried to explain to her teacher that, as a result of a glitch in the college's computer system, the reference to one quote did not get cited correctly. She was asked to appear before a board to be sentenced and, despite her parents' protests, was expelled just a few days before she was to graduate.
When I learned about this sentence, I couldn't help praying. Even though I was separated from the school by more than a thousand miles, I realized strongly and clearly that not a single person on that campus was separated from God. When your thought is permeated by the truth and intelligence of God like that, the power of God embraces everything you see and experience. Clearly, God's power can't be expelled from any school. A day later, the ruling was summarily overturned and wiped clean from this student's record. She happily accepted her well-earned diploma.
Anytime a heartfelt appreciation of God's presence, whether in a classroom or anywhere else, is abiding solidly within a parent, child, or teacher, that is effective, healing prayer in action.