Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pray Them Up

Last year was a banner year for me in teaching.  I had a special group of kids that I’ll never forget.  They cared about each other, they worked together well, they were thoughtful and they wanted to grow.  I felt like I made a connection with each one.  I attributed that partly to the fact that I only had twenty students, at least four less than I had ever had before and eight or so less than I have most years.  That doesn’t sound like much, but when it’s translated into attention per ten-year-old, it goes a long way. 

Only about a week ago, as I began to think in more concrete terms about this school year, it occurred to me that maybe my amazing past year wasn’t totally due to the smaller class size.  Granted I’m probably looking for a silver lining because I’m back up to 28 students this year, but I’d like to think I could achieve that same sense of classroom community and trust no matter the class size.  As I was preparing for this year, I remembered a new tradition I had started and sensed God saying to me, “Maybe that’s why you had such a good year.”

My new tradition is this: last summer, I counted back from the first day of school the number of students on my roster.  Then, I made a list of one student to pray for each day.  I also looked up their pictures in an old yearbook so I could picture the child I was praying for that day.  (The added benefit of that is you know a lot of their names at Open House- a real parent pleaser and it makes the child comfortable right off the bat.)

What do you pray for, you might ask?  I pray for the whole child, because that whole child will be walking through my classroom door every morning.  That whole child, academically but also socially and emotionally, will be my responsibility for seven hours a day for a whole year.  It all matters- their home life, their self-esteem, their attitude toward others, their past school experiences, their friendships….and yes, their little soul.  I pray that each one of them will see Jesus in me and feel His love through me every single day. 

I do NOT believe that we get the answer we want to the prayers we pray every single time.  But I DO believe that prayer improves situations every single time.  When we pray, the conversation with God improves our perspectives, our hearts, our relationships, and our attitudes.  And if we could get those four things in line, it would make all the difference in our classrooms (and our lives).  Maybe that’s what happened last year in Room 319.  And it’s what I’m praying for again this year, starting this week.

I don’t share this to sound holy or together.  In truth, I choose to do this intentionally now because I know I won’t be together enough to pray this specifically each morning once those 28 little faces greet me each day (though I should).  I share this in hopes that some of you will take it as a challenge.  If you’re a teacher, do something similar.  If you aren’t a teacher, make a list of kids you know and start “praying them up,” as a dear, praying older lady in my church who is also a good friend of mine would say. 

If there’s anything that breaks my heart about teaching, it’s this observable fact: it’s not easy being a kid these days.  Pray them up.  They need it, they’ll feel it, and I choose to believe it will change their situations somehow.  Believe it with me.


  1. I'm on board with you! GOD answers prayers! He will honor your request.
    Have a blessed and wonderful year!

  2. Amen, everyone, everywhere pray!