Prayer day students are an inspiration

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In high school, I’m sure I had all of the characteristics of teenagers that now annoy me, such as an abundance of angst and drama.

Having a 13-year-old brother does not help build my tolerance of teenagers, but I’m learning to cope in my new role as an education reporter. I have to find ways to talk to Suffolk high schoolers to win them over to the point they feel comfortable enough to talk to me in a natural way — and in complete sentences.

But on May 5, I met a group of students who were honest and natural without hesitation, when I attended a Lakeland High School National Day of Prayer event.

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A group of about 20 students arrived early to school that morning to express their faith at the flagpole for 30 minutes.

They were unafraid, maybe even unaware, of the judgment that might cross them. But they were being true to themselves.

They stood in a circle and prayed silently and out loud, as their peers passed them with curious looks — some sour and others just inquisitive.

The sun came up over the tree line and cast rays of light on the group as the students prayed alongside three local youth pastors and two Lakeland teachers.

My encounter with the Lakeland students reminded me how unusual it is for teenagers to be comfortable in their own skin.

They are steadfast and unwavering in their convictions, and that’s difficult at any age, let alone the toughest of ages.

I realize now that junior Chris Whiting and his fellow students are not just committed to God and their churches. They are committed to their community and more specifically their school.

Many of the students at the event told me they attended to be an example and a light to their fellow students.

And that’s what they are. They are rays of lights that community members can find hope in, whether they agree with them or not.

I was encouraged to meet Whiting, who has coordinated the event for two years, a high school student who is committed and motivated to organize events like these.

He said he hopes the event will inspire those who do not pray to turn to Jesus Christ with their problems. Then, Whiting told me something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

He said, “Prayer changes things.”

Now, I have been a practicing Christian my whole life, but hearing those words touched me deeply.

It amazes me that at his age he can say something with such confidence. It was more than his belief; he was stating a truth.

The Lakeland students are great examples for their community, not necessarily to promote Christianity but to encourage faith and hope.