A teacher I knew used to respond to student’s misbehaviour by saying loudly, “In the name of the Father …” If necessary, he would complete saying the Sign of the Cross. Prayer as a disciplinary device is certainly a misuse of prayer! How do we engage in prayer positively with our students?
There are the customary times to pray in school: beginning of class, lunchtime, end of the day. When else might we invite students to pray? We could pause during class when it’s appropriate. Maybe we are teaching about a world situation and could pray for the people involved; perhaps we are preparing for a liturgical season and could pray to live it well.
We can model sharing a concern and asking for prayer. A classroom intention list can provide a way to be aware of classmates’ needs and to attend to them through prayer. Alternating ways to pray is so important too: using the prayers of the community that we have memorised, or spontaneous prayer using our own words, or praying silently are all ways to communicate with God.
Praying for our students – especially for a student we find challenging – can unblock graces that help us to deal more effectively. Praying for parents too can enable us to put ourselves in their shoes and develop compassion. Prayer for our colleagues can strengthen our community and refocus us on our mission.
Think about the help you need. Think about the student, parent, and colleague who may need it most today.
Listening God, I hold in prayer today all those students, parents, and colleagues who need help most. And I ask you for the help I need to love you and all of them. Amen.