How much more fruit might you see in your efforts if you entrust your students and your needs in regards to them to God?
By Rachel Padilla
Being a Catholic teacher means not just teaching students’ minds but forming their hearts. It means not just leading them to knowledge and understanding of our world but also of the One who made it. One of the ways to do this is by praying with your students. However, this may seem daunting to some or tedious to others. While it certainly comes with challenges, modeling prayer is worth the inconveniences and struggles.
Why Pray with Your Students?
Praying with our students is important for the simple reason that prayer is important, whether our students are young and just being exposed to the concept of talking to God through simple, memorized words, or they are older and need to be reminded that God is not just for Sundays and their parents. Incorporating prayer into your classroom is about more than reciting rote Hail Marys, it’s about encouraging students in a relationship with Christ whatever level they are at. This is why it is essential that prayer not be reserved for theology class but a be a part of every teacher’s education of the whole child.
How to Pray with Your Students
Prayer can also be a way to build community. There is no more solid foundation than faith for a community. One way to encourage this is to ask students to share intentions. While they may sometimes be silly or simple, they will also sometimes be painfully real. As a teacher, my middle schoolers would pray for one another’s poor test grades and their favorite sports teams, but they also prayed for ill grandparents and parents going through a divorce. When students pray for one another and share their intentions with one another, they build trust and a sense of belonging.
Another way to pray with your students is to reflect on Scripture together and ask them to share their thoughts or ask what they would do in similar situations. Helping students apply the lessons given in the accounts of the Gospels and parts of the Old Testament can foster their relationship with God and their moral compass.
Another way to encourage prayer is through calling on the intercession of the saints. This can be a very accessible and engaging way for students to pray, entrusting their needs to a powerful intercessor. My students often sent up pleas to St. Joseph of Cupertino before a test. A few found great joy in praying to their namesake and telling everyone how awesome that saint was.
Praying For Your Students
Another benefit of prayer in the classroom is that it’s not just going to strengthen students’ faith. Hopefully, it also encourages your own relationship with Christ, Mary, and the saints.
One way this can happen is when you pray not only with your students but for them and ask others to do the same.
How much more beautiful would your day be if instead of complaining at lunch about a student or despairing that they’ll never get it you asked your coworkers to pray for them or for you in your relationship with that child? How much more fruit might you see in your efforts if you entrust your students and your needs in regards to them to God?
When we pray, it is about so much more than checking a box that tells others or ourselves that we are Catholic it fosters relationship with Christ and one another. It refocuses our attention on what is truly important. Praying with your students has its challenges but, as Catholic teachers forming a child’s soul has to be part of your education of the whole child. It is an opportunity that cannot be neglected.
Rachel Padilla is a campus minister in Colorado.
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