It’s that time of year again, when children and teens are heading back to school. But many children and parents are anxious. In the aftermath of COVID, the U.S. saw an increase of home schooling. This was great news, as it put parents back in control of their children’s education. It’s a luxury that not all parents can afford, however.
And these days, schools are no longer safe places. The threat of a school shooting is now a growing fear among students, teachers, school administrators, and parents. Christian parents now must investigate what their younger children are being taught. What was once reasonably considered education is no longer the central focus. Instead, schools are becoming indoctrination centers. Ever since the Supreme Court decided in 1962 to prohibit prayer in the schools, citing a violation of the First Amendment (!), we have seen the moral and spiritual condition of children and youth decline.
And yet, the remedy is simple: We desperately need God and prayers back in the schools.
Keli Caraveo is a wife, a mother, and a servant of Jesus Christ. While working with several ministries in the aftermath of the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which a gunman entered a church and shot 26 people, Keli saw the community rally together to support each other. Churches did a wonderful job ministering comfort and healing to those suffering from the tragedy. Keli thought: “We are good at repairing and rebuilding, but what are we doing about this offensively?” She prayed and asked the Lord to give her a strategy. He answered.
Lock the Shields
In 2019, the Lord awakened Keli at 3 a.m. She saw a vision of shields locked together over the city and of families praying over the schools. The Lord said: “I want watchmen on the walls.” Keli knew what she had to do. She did some research and then sent information to the children’s pastor at her local church. She immediately received a call from her pastor. He said her vision would prove beneficial for their city and for cities nationwide. His team even helped her build a website — and Lock the Shields was born. Launched in the fall of 2019, the ministry had just begun reaching out to a handful of elementary school parents when COVID hit. This temporarily halted the efforts, but Lock the Shields has slowly recovered over the past few years.
In 2021, Keli asked a handful of churches and ministries to participate in adopting schools over which they could intercede. The participants would meet on the school campuses for prayer. “It began by word of mouth,” Keli said. “It was a just small handful of people that signed up.”
The following year, participation was a bit larger. “A few more churches had joined,” Keli said. “A local ministry for military spouses reached the schools located on the base. Another local prayer network of praying moms also made announcements about Lock the Shields. Other partners in the faith community also sent out information about the event. We had about 75 schools covered that year.”
This year, Lock The Shields is asking people to show up at campuses on Sunday, August 20. The school year has begun for some schools, and for many others will start on the August 21. So far, roughly 200 schools have been “adopted,” along with additional commitments coming from various prayer networks and ministries. Isn’t that praiseworthy news?
When I asked Keli how to get permission to pray on campus, she said: “Technically, anyone can walk on school property. We just notify the administration as a courtesy.
“We send out notices to area superintendents that there may be small gatherings on campuses. It may or may not be a gathering; it may be smaller. It can be anytime during the day.
“We ask participants to gather for no more than 30 minutes in an outside public space. It can be the parking lot, a sidewalk, the flagpole, or a school sign. As long as there is no unruly behavior or acting out, you are allowed to pray in a public space at public schools. We operate in honor and integrity.”
Keli offers this caveat: “We normally do not encourage marching around the school grounds to pray unless we have been given specific permission to do so.”
The Mission of Lock the Shields
- for campuses to be marked by prayer, praise, and revival;
- for salvation, healing, and deliverance in our schools;
- for God to protect our schools from the Enemy and his evil schemes.
I asked Keli about the prayer and ministry goals for this year and going forward. She answered: “For families to pray together again, and for parents to disciple their children in prayer. We must teach children to pray with the authority of Jesus. We are also praying for unity within the Body of Christ — for us to move together as one. We are also partnering with other churches and movements. Our goal is to be more active outside the four walls of the church. We are seeing grassroots movements spring up on campuses, and we are believing for this to continue. My hope is not that the ministry will be known, or grow, or anything like that, but that people will realize that they can do something, have an impact in the spirit realm — and we can watch the Enemy’s grip loosen as strongholds come down.”
Keli said this, too: “Throughout this school year, we plan to provide opportunities to gather with others and pray in different parts of the city. Eventually, our goal is to pray at the high places.”
Can somebody say amen?
By “high places,” Keli means administration buildings, and perhaps school board meeting locations. This is the “higher ground” of our educational system, where crucial decisions are made that involve our children. Did you know that battles in our schools that have been lost or won happened inside these buildings? Let’s link arms and take back these high places through fervent prayer.
What intercessor doesn’t love to hear about what God is doing?
Keli reports that many gathered to prayer-walk at one Texas high school. These intercessors were joined by a group called San Antonio Youth For Christ, several community partners, parents, school staff members, and some alumni. She said they could literally feel the prayers shifting the atmosphere.
She also reports that after the prayer walk, the principal granted San Antonio Youth For Christ permission to start up a student-led club. The year before, the group had tried to hand out free backpacks but got denied. Within two weeks of these prayers, however, the group was asked to distribute 1,000 backpacks! How amazing is that? Keli credits this change of heart to the power of unified prayer.
Keli had a praise report even in her own family: Her 11-year-old son was grieved by what he overheard the other kids talking about during lunch. The family went into prayer together about this, and kept at it. The boy reported hearing a dramatic change in the conversations, and he said he thought it was a miracle! This answer came out of one family’s decision to pray together. Praying as a family is so powerful! Maybe the prayers that don’t get answered are the ones we feel are too small to ask God for. But there is nothing too big for God, and there is nothing too small either. We have not, because we ask not (see James 4:2–3).
Lock the Shields is giving hope not only to praying parents, but even also to parents who feel alone. It gives them fresh hope to know that others are praying for them and their children. These days we need to give hope to others. As long as we have Jesus, we have the remedy for hopelessness.
Two foundational scriptures Keli holds onto help her believe for unity in prayer and for protection in the schools.
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:19–20).
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV).
Advice for Those Who Want To Join
Here is what Keli counsels those seeking involvement: “Start by asking the Holy Spirit to lead you. Invite Him into your prayer time. Ask Him to wake you at all hours, even if it’s the middle of the night. Ask Him to give you eyes of faith to see what is happening in the spirit realm at your campus, and then pray about it when He shows you. This is going to involve binding and loosing, according to Matthew 18:18, and we must learn to pray with authority.”
Lock the Shields has joined a group of ministries in San Antonio that have a heart for Jesus and their city. In September, One City Collective will host its third One Voice citywide prayer and worship event. The challenge to the Church is this: What would happen if the Church in a city came together to pray over students and to release them as missionaries into their schools?
“Unity, prayer, and action is ‘a cord of three strands,’ ” Keli said.
And we know that a cord of three strands is not easily broken (see Ecclesiastes 4:12).
God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. He doesn’t look for earthly titles, qualifications, or résumés. He looks for those who are willing and obedient. Some are called to lead and some to support, but whatever He calls you to do, He will provide for. One thing is certain: As intercessors, we are called to prayer. Will you link your prayer shield with us for our children’s sake?
Your Help is Needed
If you are interested in learning more, visit www.LockTheShields.com. You will be prompted to enter your address and sign up to adopt a school — from pre-kindergarten through high school — for prayer. You will also be asked to make a commitment to pray as a family throughout the school year for your adopted school. Prayer guides are available for download in both English and Spanish on the website. The prayer guide provides points of agreement. You can sign up for monthly emails to stay informed. And you can also find info on Facebook and Instagram. Even if you can’t make the commitment to pray on-site, you can still be a part of what God is doing: You can pray wherever you are. And tell others about Lock the Shields.
Father, we praise You for how You are moving among our youth and children. You are stirring up movements in Texas and other states. You are calling intercessors out of their prayer closets and onto the physical front lines. Would You breathe on and bless this initiative, whose members long to rebuild the family prayer altar? We know that when family prayer returns, family revival will follow. When families are revived, it will impact our schools. We long to see a revival in our public schools. We pray for the teachers and administrators to not only look favorably on Lock the Shields, but also to link arms in prayer with students, parents, and churches. We pray for an increase by word of mouth and over social media, so that the message of on-site praying at schools would spread like wildfire. More prayers will equal more power, and this generation is hungry for something that only You can give them. Let it be so, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
How will you be praying for children returning to school?
IFA contributing writer Gloria Robles is a passionate intercessor with a prophetic voice for today. For more from Gloria, go to Spotify or Anchor and listen to her podcast, Something To Share. Photo Credit: Keli Caraveo.