Monday, March 4, 2013

The Power of Prayer

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways," says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth
so are my ways higher than your ways
my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

This is my fourth year teaching third grade for Sunday school. I've realized that each class has its own character, which is interesting. I would have expected one class to be much like the next, with a small amount of variance due to different personalities. I've found, though, that what captivated the class one year has left another class utterly bored.

I was spoiled my first year. The character of that class was academic. They wanted to know why we learned things, enjoyed new vocabulary, could discuss concepts, and soaked up information like sponges. In short, their learning style aligned with my teaching style. It was great!

The next year's class was polite. No behavior problems, very few inattentive kids, but also no apparent enthusiasm for what I taught. They willingly completed what I asked them to do, but were usually so quiet I couldn't tell how much they actually learned. I felt like I never really got to know them.

Last year's class was creative. If they had made the lesson plan, we would have colored pictures and done skits all day! I did manage to work something artistic into most lessons, so they had a good time. They were a pretty happy-go-lucky group; the one time I pulled out my "teacher voice" to correct a student, they were all stunned. :-)

This year's class is a challenge. My impression is that they view Sunday school as just another subject, akin to social studies. They frequently toe the line of disrespectful and need frequent redirection to keep them on task. They're intelligent, but rarely pay enough attention to remember what I've taught. They're very active, so I try to incorporate one or two moving activities into a class, but it's an ongoing struggle. Although a rebuke is effective, they're not very responsive to praise and encouragement. It's draining.

Yesterday, I taught an overview of prayer. This included two consecutive quiet reflection activities (examination of conscience and lectio divina). Truthfully, I didn't expect to get through both of them. I was pleasantly shocked that they kept quiet and focused. Furthermore, they were able to explain, in their own words, what types of prayer we learned. I am so joyful knowing what captured their attention was communion with God. That is the most important thing I can show them. It's good to know that there are plans in effect much more powerful than my lesson plans.


  1. I love your stories. This one makes me think of my sister-in-law. She taught high school business/computers for many years and was the Sr. High Advisor. She said one time that "every once in a while you get a bad group and the next year is totally different". I read your blog and I thought of her, which is a good thing and your next year's class will be different. Gotta love that.

    1. Glad you're enjoying my writing! And yes, one thing I can definitely say about working with kids is it is never boring. :-)