Bright and early this morning, Wednesday Sept. 23, millions of elementary through college students gathered at flagpoles on campuses across the United States and many foreign countries to pray for spiritual awakening in their schools and communities.
This year, “See You at the Pole” marked its 25th year. Founded in 1990 by a group of students from Burleson, Texas, the student-led prayer event seeks to encourage students to continue in prayer and ministry as a lifelong discipline.
“See You At the Pole is a great opportunity for Christian students, regardless of denomination, to join together to pray for their country and their campus,” says Ben Trueblood, director of Student Ministry at Lifeway. “It helps them see that the Body of Christ goes beyond their own church and that they can work together to reach their campus for Christ.”
SYATP coincides with the annual Global Week of Student Prayer (Sept. 20–26) when people are encouraged to find new and unique ways, places and times to pray in groups throughout the week for the world, community leaders, schools, staff and families.
The annual SYATP event grew out of a 1990 DiscipleNow weekend, when a small group of students prayed at flagpoles at different schools one 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.
“We never dreamed that first prayer event would turn into a mass movement of prayer,” says Rick Eubanks, who was then student pastor at Crestmont Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas. It was students from his youth group that first gathered at flagpoles in 1990. “We were just praying for students at the school who were far from God or who had walked away from Him.”
A few months later, youth leaders gathered in Colorado for a national conference. Ministers began sharing how their students heard about the event in Texas and became burdened to pray for their school.
Though no additional events were planned, it became clear the students themselves would essentially create a national day of prayer for their schools. On Sept. 11, 1991, an estimated 1 million students gathered at 7 a.m. and prayed at school flagpoles across the country.
In 25 years, the movement has grown to see more than 3 million students participate across the United States and in more than 20 countries.
“It’s overwhelming and extremely humbling to see what we were a part of starting,” Eubanks says. “But God was orchestrating things from the beginning. We had no idea it would last. But it’s developed into a good day of global unity through prayer.”