Some 30 years ago, a small group of Texas high school students met for prayer, which unbeknownst to them, would blossom into a movement that now surpasses 66 countries and brings hundreds of thousands of students together to do the most important thing they can — pray.
In early 1990, the group participating in a Disciple Now weekend was moved and burdened by God to begin praying for friends, schools and leaders. They drove to three local high schools, met at the flagpoles and poured their hearts out to God.
Not long afterward, the flagpole prayer vigil spread to other students and other schools. It was dubbed, “See You at the Pole,” and within the first year 45,000 students were participating. As God grew the movement, it caught fire in other states and countries and today, it is estimated some 1 million students around the world will join in and pray for others.
Doug Clark, national field director for the National Network of Youth Ministries and program coordinator for See You at the Pole, explained the miracle that occurred after those few students began praying.
‘Holy Spirit was doing something’
“It had gone nuts,” he said. “They realized the Holy Spirit was doing something.”
Clark has been involved in SYATP for many years and noted one of its strengths, and why it has spread across the globe, is that students take the lead.
“It’s student-led and sensitive to God’s leading,” Clark explained. “We want the moment to become a movement. The most momentum comes when students lead it.”
He said the program, which has a simple structure, is designed to spur students on to form other Christian groups on campus.
“We want to encourage them to dream beyond See You at the Pole,” Clark said.
As with so many aspects of life and ministry, SYATP has been affected by the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic, but Clark said adjustments were made in 2020 and will need to be made again, as the 2021 event draws near.
“Like so many ministries, it was put online in 2020,” Clark noted.
SYATP will again be livestreamed, beginning Sept. 22 at 7 a.m. in each time zone.
“There will be a guided time of prayer,” Clark said. “It will be for individuals or groups of people, and it’ll be 20 minutes or so.”
Pray safely together
He added that, despite the livestream opportunity, he would love students to come together on campus if possible and pray safely together.
“Our preference is in person,” he said.
Clark explained that all students, whether they watch online or pray in person, are encouraged to share their experiences on their social media accounts and online so others will be included and built up. He said students also are asked to download the Campus Prayer app, created by Claim Your Campus, in partnership with SYATP.
Even though the event is designed to be student driven, Clark noted adults should be encouraged to empower and assist them as much as possible, adding there are several ways those involved in students’ lives can help.
“One-on-one encouragement is important, and also parents to their kids,” he explained. “Youth leaders can help their students organize too. And in churches — we do a good job supporting missionaries, but students are missionaries to their schools. The Sunday before school starts, churches can lay hands on them to commission them as missionaries.
“Support is so important. It’s a fertile missions field.”
When asked about the biggest impact of SYATP, Clark said it has brought unity to Christian students.
“It’s an important key to evangelism. It gives them a starting point,” he explained. “Praying … is the first and best thing you can do for anyone.”
Another key reason to encourage students, and others, to participate in SYATP, Clark said, is the tremendous difficulty everyone has undergone the last year with COVID chaos such as sickness, changes in school schedules, frustration experienced by teachers and administrators, and emotional struggles of students and parents.
“They’ve been shredded by this,” Clark said, noting teen suicide has increased as a result. “Students are literally dying, and losing a whole year of school has been hard on them. It’s urgent this year that we pray for the schools.”
To support, promote or participate in this year’s See You at the Pole visit syatp.com, download the Campus Prayer app and read more about how to pray, prepare, publicize and plan an event.