One of my dreams is that, one day, every school in the UK would have a local church that is praying for them and actively seeking to serve them.

A few years ago, Scripture Union released some challenging research that indicated over 95 per cent of young people in the UK were not connected to a local church. We also know that 99 per cent of young people in the UK engage in mainstream education in some form. I believe that if we truly want to shape the nation by reaching those 95 per cent of young people without a church connection, we need to learn how to serve our schools and meet these youth where they are.

Twenty-five years ago, founder and global director of the Pais Movement, Paul Gibbs, prayer walked across the width of England from coast to coast, starting the Thru Hike For Schools initiative. During this prayer walk in the late 90s, God stirred Paul’s heart for the schools of Manchester and the schools of the UK. Paul had started the Pais Movement as a way of bridging the gap he had identified between schools and the local church, and this walk fuelled the fire of his passion for schools. The word Pais’ means servant’ in Biblical Greek and Pais Movement’s strategy has always been to impact young people in schools by serving their schools.

In 2020, Paul planned to do the walk again, praying for the schools of the world as he walked and inspiring others to pray for schools in their own communities. Due to the events of the pandemic, this second prayer walk was postponed until May 2021 but that didn’t stop momentum building around this idea.

"We believe in the power of prayer, the incredible dynamic of prayer walking, and the transformative impact of serving our world in the way of Christ."

Due to the hugely challenging situation the pandemic created for children, young people, schools, staff and families, we decided to initiate a National Day of Prayer for Schools in September 2020. It was so encouraging to see church groups all over the UK prayer walking their communities, praying God’s best over their local schools, and seeking God for breakthrough in those schools.

We believe in the power of prayer, the incredible dynamic of prayer walking, and the transformative impact of serving our world in the way of Christ. The Pais Movement and Youthscape are working together alongside many other churches, organisations and groups across the UK to bang the drum for ministry in schools and lead the call to pray for the schools of our nations. The organisation Pray for Schools’ have also been seeking to make every school a prayed-for school and they are right behind the National Day of Prayer for Schools.

Jane Newey, Pray for Schools England co-ordinator, said this about the National Day of Prayer for Schools:

There is so much pressure in schools at the moment, it’s important to pray for all those working in our schools as well as the children and young people. It’s great that Pais and Youthscape encourage this day of prayer, so we can all unite together and pray for our schools.”

In light of last year’s success, it’s a privilege to be running the National Day of Prayer for Schools again on 28 September 2021. On the day, we plan to invite as many people as possible to join an online prayer gathering in the morning, where there will be prayer videos released on social media every hour before we gather people to pray in locations across the UK in the evening.

During the day, we would also encourage people to prayer walk their communities, praying God’s best for their local schools. If your church or small group want some top tips on how to do this then we’d recommend using The Prayer Course’s guide on How to Prayer Walk’.

We’d love as many of you as possible to get involved with this movement to pray for and serve our local schools, do if you’d like to find out more then head to our website for more information.

Let’s start a movement of praying God’s best for schools across the UK, allowing God to stir our hearts so we might learn how to better serve our local schools.