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Words for the Weary: Encouraging Prayers to Keep Teachers Connected with Christ

Do you ever struggle to pray during the school day? It is easy to feel overwhelmed and at a loss for words. How do you even find the time? Who or what do you pray for? 

Prayer keeps us grounded in Christ, and refreshed in our souls. Get encouragement and tips to help you pray during the school day.

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Teaching is super rewarding, but it is also exhausting. We become teachers because we love kids, but there is a lot more that comes with it, a lot that is hard and heavy. There is not a lot of space for hard things between the many coffee mugs celebrating how great you are as a teacher. The reality of teaching is more nuanced. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom knows that while we are in the thick of teaching, it's hard to articulate a prayer or to put it into words. It looks a lot more like groaning than any kind of real words.

But God is in it. He is with us in all of it, not just the happy endings and the stories that make you cry or give you goose bumps. He is in the boring parts, and the really hard parts, too. In Christian circles we can feel pressure to only talk about joyful things, which we should talk about. We do, however, need to resist the temptation to pretend that joy is all there is. 

Here are three ways to pray that help us stay connected and grounded in Christ from This Year, Lord: Teachers’ Prayers of Blessing, Liturgy, and Lament by Sheila Quinn Deloney. 

Blessings

Blessings are a way to shine a light on the people and things we don’t often notice in the hurry of teaching. We can thank God for custodial staff, cafeteria staff, and other support staff who can sometimes go unnoticed.

Praying for our enemies is also something Scripture encourages us to do. We are to bless them and not curse them. It is hard to curse someone while we are blessing them. We can intentionally pray a blessing for bullies, for the teacher we can’t stand, for the principal who isn’t doing a good job.

Blessings soften our hearts to kids, adults, and systems that seem to be nothing but enemies and bad news. They help us see others more like Christ—who sees those who are challenging and overlooked and is moved with compassion. 

Liturgies

The word liturgy literally means “the work of the people,” and has come to represent the things we do in worship that follow a pattern or are repeated. At school there is a lot of repeated work, a lot of liturgy if you think about it. Going to the copy machine, turning in attendance, taking lunch count, and grading papers are all bits of holy work we do every day.

When you think about a year’s worth of lunch count, it takes on a different meaning. Maybe it does matter—to the cafeteria workers, to the students—even if it is so very small and mundane. 

When we pray over these moments in our day, it brings a mindfulness that invites us to worship and honor God in each moment. It keeps our eyes open to what is really happening around us, and informs the way we go about our day instead of sleepwalking through our routines. The result is a better posture toward the people we interact with, and better responses to challenges.

Laments

Lament is all over the Bible—though culturally we have for many years lost the art of lament. The Psalms are full of laments and you can even find laments in the Gospels. Mary comes to Jesus after Lazarus dies and says “Where were you? It took you so long to get here. If you had been here, this would not have happened.” That is a lament—she goes straight to God with her complaint. 

We feel pressure to “let go and let God,” but our hearts are still full of sin and hard feelings. It might feel strange in our Christian culture to complain to God, but God can handle all of it: complaints, confession, anger, frustration, and all the bad feelings we would rather avoid or skip over.  Lament holds space for the feelings we don’t feel comfortable with and says stay longer, linger here, and in God’s time we will get to the next part.

We have to turn to God in our hard feelings, and when we do that, God turns our hearts back to him, and then we can let them go. While acknowledging that God is trustworthy, we also have to mourn brokenness, because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. God knows that, and he will not turn away from our complaints. 

If you don’t know where to start with lament, start with the Psalms. Many Psalms begin with a question to God, followed by a complaint. This is handing it to God. Many Psalms then take us through remembering who God is. Then the Psalmists will make requests—sometimes brutal requests. God can handle this, and he may not give you what you ask for, but he wants to hear what you want. 

If you want something removed from your life, a sin to be gone, or an enemy to see justice, ask. Then God will help you to let go, because the Creator of the Universe is the only one with the true power to bring about healing, justice, and forgiveness. Honesty before God is so much better than burying your pain under a rug and pretending you don’t feel it. 

Check out This Year, Lord: Teachers’ Prayers of Blessing, Liturgy, and Lament by Sheila Quinn Deloney for prayers to help you bless, honor God in the liturgy of your day, and lament. This book is for you who have no words, and it is full of timely, honest, beautiful prayers. 

Sheila Quinn Delony is a writer and life coach in Franklin, TN. She enjoys gardening, hiking, and reading good books with her husband and two children. Sheila has twenty years of experience working with public schools and teacher preparation programs. She earned a Master’s degree in Language and Literacy Education and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University. She has published numerous academic articles in the field of education.

Links Mentioned

3 STEPS TO BANISH STRESS & TEACH WITH JOY

Sometimes trusting God is easier said than done. So how exactly do we make that happen? In Teach Uplifted, we'll learn to trust in God and rest in His goodness with these three steps: 
  • Discover what the Bible says about God’s incredible work in your life so that you can stop stressing and start resting in His promises.
  • Meditate on God’s goodness, sovereignty, and grace so that these truths sink down into your heart & change the way you think & respond.
  • Abide in Christ so that His joy & grace shine through you each day in the classroom.
Teach Uplifted devotion for teachers book

heRZOG FOUNDATIoN

The Herzog foundation believes that teachers are heartbeat of schools and the role models to our future leaders. In June, they will host the Making A Leap: Teacher Symposium at Wheaton College, Illinois to explore questions, concerns, and myths around Christian education. During the two-day symposium teachers, administrators, and graduates looking to go into Christian education will explore topics like Reclaiming Faith and Freedom in the Classroom, launching your own Christian school, and more. If you are thinking about making the leap into Christian education, this two day event is for you! Find out more at teach4theheart.com/leap.

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