An estimated 3 million elementary through college Christian students gathered at flagpoles on campuses across the United States and many foreign countries Sept. 24 to pray for moral and spiritual awakening for their schools and communities.
This year, See You at the Pole (SYATP) marked its 24th year. Many locations across Oklahoma hosted rallies the evening of SYATP. There were more than 20 associational rallies in Oklahoma this year. Bryan Association met at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, and had more than 2,100 in attendance.
At presstime, a reported 4,200 students attended a rally with more than 240 decisions. Early estimates project as many as 10,000 attended a rally with hundreds more decisions.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Student Evangelism & Missions Specialist Nick Atyia coordinated the event.
“The SYATP event, to me, is a call to the spiritual discipline of prayer” Atyia said. “It challenges us all to spend time laying our schools, friends, government, and communities at the throne of Jesus. We petition for God to do work in a powerful way.
“The connection for students is reflection and awareness of spiritual needs, and action to biblically respond to those needs in prayer. The theme this year was consistent with the spiritual discipline of prayer. For all believers, we should continually be lifting up our petitions and praises to our faithful God.”
Todd Sanders, BGCO student education specialist, spoke in Newcastle at the Newcastle/Blanchard area rally.
“(SYATP rallies) encourage (students) to see other students in their area who are living out their faith,” Sanders said. “I think (the rally is) important in helping students see beyond the meeting at the flagpole, encouraging them to make their faith about something more, that is something that reaches beyond the event.”
Sanders hopes that the rallies helped students walk away knowing that a continual life in Christ, and not just the event, is what is desired.
“I hope they walked away challenged on how they might, from this point forward, live lives that glorify God,” Sanders said.
Atyia also reflected on how to encourage students who were brave enough to stand alone at their flagpole.
“The apostle Paul understood standing alone,” Atyia said. “In 2 Tim. 4:16-17 he says this, At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles to hear.
“I hope our students know that God strengthens us and uses our faith in those moments to reach the world for His glory. We may not always see it, but our obedience and discipline before the Lord is always for His glory and for the advancing of the Kingdom.”
SYATP global prayer meetings were held on campuses preferably at 7 a.m. local time. Last year, event organizers added Global Week of Student Prayer to the event, set this year Sept. 21-27, to accommodate schools closed or engaged in other events on the 24th.
Never Stop Praying was this year’s theme, based on Eph. 6:18. Students also prayed for individual friends, students and family members, indicated by posts to the event’s Facebook page and on Twitter, at #NeverStopPraying and #SYATP. Those posts indicate participation in all 50 states, Guatemala, Turkey, Canada, Australia and Berlin, Germany. Many students have committed to pray every day of the week.
The annual SYATP event grew out of a 1990 DiscipleNow weekend, when a small group of students prayed at flagpoles at different schools on a Saturday night. Inspired by the small event, youth leaders across Texas organized SYATP in 1990 and drew 45,000 students to prayer meetings in four states. By the next year, an estimated 1 million students gathered in prayer at flagpoles across the nation, according to the SYATP website.
To learn more about the history of SYATP visit http://syatp.com/.