When the pandemic began 18 months ago, I regularly thought of myself as living in extraordinary times. I am struck by how very much we have adapted. That which was unprecedented in human history has come to feel almost normal to us. What a blessing to have been created so able to modify our behaviours, expectations – our total way of life – so that we can survive as a species!

Nevertheless, these still are extraordinary times. And, as we return to school this month, our back to school prayers may be a little different. Here are a couple that you may wish to use:

For Adults and Older Students

God of Love you are our Creator and Protector,

We ask that you keep us safe as we begin another pandemic school year.

We pray in a special way for all students and teachers of math and science that the knowledge they acquire may lead to a cure to COVID-19 and all that harms your beloved children. As they study the wonders of your marvellous creation, may they see in it the fingerprints of you, their Creator.

We pray for students and teachers of literature, art, music and drama that in a time when our hearts are heavy and our minds anxious, they may uplift us, inspire joy and hope and reveal to us to a vision of a world of love and justice.

We ask your blessing on students and teachers of history and geography that they may help us grow in wisdom. May we learn from the past, building on successes and gaining wisdom from failures. May we realize how deeply connected we are over time and space and commit to acting as global citizens.

We ask that you guide all students and teachers of trades and professions. As they hone the talents and skills with which you have endowed them, direct their hearts to use these gifts to heal and to build up and to care for the earth and all its inhabitants.

May all our learning and teaching be oriented to knowing you, our Creator, more fully. 

May all our learning and knowing be deeply rooted in love for you and all your beloved ones.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For Younger Children

God, you love us and protect us always.

Keep us safe as we start a new school year.

Help us be kind to all – our teachers, staff and students.

Help us obey the rules that keep us safe.

Help us be thankful for the unique gifts you have given us and use them to help others.

Help us be thankful for the gifts you have given others and accept help from them.

Bring us joy as we learn about the wonderful world that you have created for us.

Give us patience when we must learn in ways that are difficult for us.

Take away our fears and help us always to know your love and care.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Christine Way Skinner is a lay minister and author. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Theology at St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Christine loves trying to find inclusive, compelling and creative ways to pass on the church’s 2000 year old traditions. She enjoys exploring the arts, gardening and engaging conversations. Christine’s numerous publications can be found and purchased here.

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