Are you old enough to meet former students who have turned into working adults? It was a humbling moment a week ago when I ran across an old student of mine who now works in Gardner as a para. After quickly getting over the Dude, I am getting old! thought, I was delighted to find out she was indeed a Christian teacher who enjoyed praying with her closer colleagues right after school.
I told her about our school’s prayer group, we exchanged e-mails, and I went about my evening. I sent her the link to this blog, and she sent me a document she had been working on: “50 Ways to Pray for 50 Shades of Grey.” This incredible Christian teacher confessed that she was dedicating a full hour of prayer time every day for one week to pray about our culture’s reactions to the new R-rated movie. (If you’d like to take a look at this document, let me know. I’d be happy to send it to you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I prayed over that document Saturday morning. One hour a day for a week? Sheesh … how inspiring! It got me thinking about my prayer life. Do I pray enough at school? With my children? With my spouse? Do I turn to prayer in times of need, or do I let the world get the best of me? Do I pray about my students enough? My administration? My colleagues? Our Friday morning prayer team created a googledoc that lists our requests, but am I regularly praying over that list? Or am I pulling it up only when convenient? Do I truly believe my prayers, trusting them to God, or is there skepticism in my heart? How much is prayer a part of my daily life? These questions prompted me to seek out truths inspired by scripture below …
- “Pray without ceasing;” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). Be in communion with God all day long. This certainly means at work. No, teachers in public education cannot pray aloud in front of students during the work day, but we can pray in our minds. We can pray in our hearts. We can pray on our planning period, before, or after school; and we can certainly pray with our Christian colleagues when appropriate.
- “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it” (Matthew 21: 22). Trust your prayers to God. He will answer them! Not on your terms but His. Simply praying empty words with faith abandoned will get you nowhere. We are talking about praying to the One who can move mountains! The One who parted the Red Sea! Have faith that your requests are heard and that God will answer.
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4: 6). My wife chose this as her life verse. Anxiety can choke the spirit right out of you. Supplement your prayers with praises of thanksgiving! Sometimes being thankful for what God has blessed you with during times of worry can make you realize how good you actually have it.
- “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6: 6). You cannot undermine the importance of prayer away from distraction. Do you ever pray in your classroom before the day begins? Do so. Every day. Pray in your room before a big meeting. Pray silently for your students as you walk down the hallways observing the lockers. Pray against bullying in the nooks and crannies away from adult eyes.
- “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6: 7). Sometimes I need a long prayer to empty my heart to God, but a long prayer doesn’t always mean a good prayer. There are times when simplicity works best.
Think about your prayer life today. Evaluate it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask yourself where you want to go with it. And how about this crazy thought—pray about it! You are never wrong in seeking God’s wisdom. (One mind is great, but an army of prayer warriors is greater. If you have a scripture or encouraging thought to share about prayer, feel free to comment below. I welcome all suggestions!)