Our children go out into a crazy world every day and are met with confusion, uncertainty, fear and sometimes hopelessness. In my day, school began with a united prayer. That practice has been removed from schools, but prayer itself needn't be. We can teach our children about the true nature of prayer and empower them to draw upon their higher power anytime and anyplace - including school.
Prayer is direct communication with God and teaching our kids that he knows what is in our hearts and minds will help them to understand that prayer doesn't need to be audible to be heard.
There are so many circumstances under which students might feel the need to pray:
When they have studied hard, but are still worried about a test or an assignment.
When they feel bullied or picked-on by another student or even a teacher.
When they are concerned about a friend and need inspiration on how to help.
When they do not quite understand assignments.
When they try out for a chair in orchestra, a school play or a sports team.
Before a big game, performance or competition.
During an anxiety or panic attack.
If they are worried about something stressful going on at home.
When they are feeling particularly grateful for some good thing that has happened: good grade, new friend, competency in class or success in sports.
When considering what to do after they graduate.
If they see another student that is injured, addicted or suicidal.
Our children need to be taught that there is nothing that can stop them from praying when they need to. Contrary to what many think, prayer can be done individually.
It doesn't need to be recited out loud.
Rather than being rote or memorized, a prayer can be a pure conversation without inhibition.
It doesn't need to involve others.
You don't need to be on your knees, or have your arms folded, eyes closed or head bowed.
You can say prayers without anyone ever knowing it is being done.
From the time they are very young, we need to teach our kids about the privilege of being able to pray whenever they are thankful or frightened or concerned about someone. Helping them to know that God is listening and will hear and answer their prayers can give them the armor they need to go out and face the world bravely and confidently.
Praying as a family in the morning before everyone scatters is also a great idea. Mentioning our children each by name and personalizing our petitions will allow them to know that they are dear to us and, more importantly, that we believe that God will hear and answer all of our prayers.
We need to teach our children that prayer is the one thing that cannot be stopped, no matter what, because it is the one thing that no one needs to even know about. Prisoners of war, jailed convicts, captive hostages and others know that this is the one thing that cannot be denied us. It can be done secretly, covertly, and without fanfare or announcement. We need only think the words and feel them in our hearts and they will be understood and answered. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children as they face a world of great uncertainty, questionable morals and violence. We owe it to them to let them know that there is one who loves them and will always be there to hear them, even when the words are silent.