Lakeland students gather to pray

Published 10:29 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prayer: Lakeland High School students meet to pray before classes Thursday for the National Day of Prayer. Junior Chris Whiting, who arranged the meeting, said he hopes people remember prayer can make a difference.

Students at Lakeland High School gathered before class Thursday to pray in recognition of the National Day of Prayer.

Along with youth leaders from local churches, about 20 students met at the flagpole and bowed their heads in prayer.

Junior Chris Whiting, who coordinated the event the last two years, said he thinks it’s important for everyone to recognize the National Day of Prayer.

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“It’s a holiday,” Whiting said. “It’s our day to come out and let people know we’re praying.”

He said his mother reminded him earlier this week that May 5 was the National Day of Prayer, and he hurried to get the event together.

Whiting used Facebook to invite everyone he knows from Lakeland to the event. He also arrived early Thursday morning to invite teachers who had already arrived for work.

The group, which included two other youth pastors and two teachers, formed a circle just as the sun rose above the tree line.

Other students arriving for school looked on curiously, and some even joined the group.

While many of the students prayed silently, freshman Austyn Chappell, who goes to Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, prayed out loud at the event.

She said she attended the prayer day event to set an example for her fellow students.

“I want to be the person in the school that is a light for everyone and make a difference,” Chappell said.

Like Chappell, freshman Stephanie Boles, who attends First Baptist Church, wanted to set an example.

“I love Jesus Christ with all of my heart,” she said. “I wanted to come here to be with other Christians and be a light for everyone who doesn’t know Christ like we do.”

Win Anderson, the youth pastor from Family Harvest Church where Whiting is a youth leader, joined the students at the flagpole.

“I’m always excited when a student says, ‘Can we get out and pray,’” Anderson said.

Both Anderson and Southside Baptist Church youth pastor J.C. Kimmer led the group in prayer.

Holy Neck Christian Church youth leader Kevin Brooks also prayed with the students.

Kimmer, who leads Lakeland’s First Priority student prayer group with Brooks, said he was inspired and encouraged by the students to attend.

“They asked us to be a part of it,” he said.

Junior Danielle Hollomon, who also attends Family Harvest, came out to pray with her youth group and other students.

“I came because my youth group was here and because God should be present at our school,” she said.

Whiting said he hopes the National Day of Prayer and the Lakeland event remind people Jesus Christ is the answer.

“Prayer helps a lot,” he said. “Prayer changes things.”