When Christian students gather around the flagpole to pray at today’s See You At the Pole (SYATP) rallies, they’ll probably also be gathered around their smartphones.
And that’s by design. Organizers of the annual school prayer event—held at 7 this morning—hope that incorporating technology will help spur more regular prayer meetings on middle and high school campuses throughout the year.
“See You at the Pole is a ‘moment,’” Doug Clark, national field director of the National Network of Youth Ministries, told Baptist Press. “We hope adults and students will consider turning that moment into a movement by praying every day.”
The ministry anticipates around a million students worldwide participating in the 29th annual school prayer observance, held the fourth Wednesday of September. But SYATP is also turning to new technology to connect young Christians to long-term prayer commitments.
The app—which presents a tally of how many users are praying at any given time—added a dedicated SYATP portal for participants over the summer, ahead of the 2019 event.
Through the Campus Prayer app, students can schedule prayer groups and communicate the times and locations to other students. Plus, it guides students through prayer prompts for their schools based on a daily devotional passage.
Claim Your Campus has set a goal to have 15 students at each of the nation’s 67,000 schools commit to regular prayer, resulting in 1 million students united in prayer. So far, the project estimates that at least 30,000 students are participating in regular gatherings through Claim Your Campus.
SYATP also has offered more resources for the smartphone and social media-savvy students of today, offering branded hashtags, hi-res art, and videos to promote the event; this year the theme is “if…” based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. (As CT previously reported, many Gen Z Christians see sharing on social media a part of their experience of an event—for social and for evangelistic purposes.)
SYATP has come a long way from its beginning as an impromptu prayer gathering by students on a discipleship retreat in Burleson, Texas. When first formal See You At the Pole took place in September 1990, more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four different states to pray before the start of school.
College ministries have developed similar technology to promote a campus prayer movement in higher education. Last December, InterVarsity Fellowship and Cru launched EveryCampus, a mobile site and app where participants can log prayer walks at their colleges.
The goal of the site is to inspire college students to cover the nation’s nearly 5,000 colleges and universities with prayer in 2019—particularly the 70 percent that do not have an active Christian ministry presence. Since its launch, over 60 campus ministries and churches have joined in.
EveryCampus users can download prayer guides, mark when they prayed, and get real time updates on how many campuses need prayer. Behind its website, EveryCampus is creating a portal for campus ministries to collaborate and share data about ministry events, activities, and individuals interested in becoming more involved.
“This portal is unprecedented and represents a new normal of kingdom collaboration between many organizations that used to operate as rivals,” said EveryCampus co-founder R. York Moore. “Sharing finances, human resources, digital assets, and platforms at events and online are just a few ways we are seeing the groundwork set for revival.”