“Don’t forget to pray for Monster!” This request was called out just as I was preparing to pray at the end of the school day. I had to think quickly—“Who is Monster?” Then I remembered: Monster is a cow that has a hurt leg. So we prayed for Monster.
Prayer is a vital part of our school day. We pray to start and end the day, we pray before eating lunch, and we may stop throughout the day to pray. Whoever is the “math person” in our class is asked if they want to pray for lunch. Most of the children want to pray and pray their own prayers. I am often touched by the things they say to God. Some years I give them the option of praying or not for the first round, and after that I ask each one to pray when it’s their day. I want them to learn to pray, and I will help them know what to say if they can’t think of anything.
One day I prayed for a cat with a hurt leg, a dog (that her puppies would be healthy), and a cow (Monster), and some grandparents and a little brother. Praying for these animals amuses me, but I am blessed by the faith of my students as they freely share their prayer requests and believe that God cares and will answer. I appreciate their faith.
Once when we heard sirens and the children were concerned, I commented that we could pray for the situation. We paused math class and prayed for whatever was happening. After that, every time we heard sirens, someone would say, “Let’s pray!” A few times I wondered if it was just a fun way to stop having class for a few minutes, but I realized the concern of the children was genuine and appreciated this call to prayer.
I teach a unit on prayer in devotions/Bible class and will share ideas here for teaching prayer in the classroom.
- Take prayer requests from the students. At first, I explain what a prayer request is, and give some guidance, so the children know what this means.
- Write the requests on the board and pray for them throughout the day.
- Encourage the children to pray for the requests.
- Write their requests on a poster board, post it, and note answers to prayer.
- Write prayer requests on slips of paper and put the slips in a jar. Students can write their prayer requests and put them in the jar, too. Select a few to pray for each time you pray.
- Remember to share answers to prayer!
- Thank God for listening and answering (even when the answers aren’t as we would like).
Many of our students learn to pray at home. I can tell some of their phrases come from their parents, and we can reinforce that learning at school and continue that dependence on prayer. Some of our students do not have that background and we can teach them to pray, as the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” I have learned about prayer from my students, too!
One day I was hiking with my brother’s family when a storm hit and trees were crashing all around us. My brother and nephew, Jordan, were trapped under several trees, and I was stuck under another fallen tree. I heard three-year-old Jordan crying, “Let’s pray!” as trees continued to fall and the wind roared. There was not time for his daddy to teach him to pray but Jordan had already learned to pray and take his needs to God.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt