Steering Wheel or Spare Tire?

I recently saw a church sign that read, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

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As Christian educators, do we wait and pray when we’re in the midst of difficult circumstances, when a student is causing us a problem, or we are facing a difficult confrontation?  Or are we letting prayer be the “steering wheel” that guides our interactions with students?

Years ago I found myself in a position in which the students rising into my class had a bad reputation.   They had been a challenge academically, behaviorally, and socially for the teacher before me.  She took great pains to “warn” me of all the problems coming my way and to wish me “good luck” as the students left her class.  I found myself dreading the next school year and scoping out the kids on the playground so that I could prepare for the worst.

About that same time, my husband and I were going through a discipleship course together and discussing the power of prayer to change relationships.  As these two situations collided, I became convicted of the need to pray for the students who would be in my class.  So, I picked up a roster from the office and committed to pray for my students every day of the summer.  At first I selfishly prayed that they would mature and be less of a behavioral problem, but I soon found myself convicted to pray about my heart attitude toward them.  By the end of the summer, my perspective was radically changed, and I was able to greet those students with genuine affection.

During this summer, we will most likely work on lesson plans, refine curriculum, attend conferences, and read books.  In the midst of all of these good things, let’s not forget the single most important thing we can do to prepare for next year:  pray for our students.

It can be challenging to pray for students we don’t yet know very well.  Consider using Scripture to guide prayer.

  • Pray that students will become sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ if they have not already done so and that, for those who are believers, they may find their identity in Christ alone (Galatians 3:26).
  • Pray that they will learn to love what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent (Philippians 4:8).
  • Pray for wisdom – for them and for you (Proverbs 1:5-6).
  • Pray that they will flee temptation (Proverbs 1:10).
  • Pray that you and your students would seek righteousness and meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).
  • Pray that your students would do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
  • Pray that their tongue will be controlled by the Spirit (James 3).
  • Pray that the word of the Christ would dwell in them richly (Colossians 3:16).

The list of possible prayers is endless, and there is no magic formula – just pray!

Is prayer the steering wheel or spare tire of your classroom?

How do you pray for your students?  

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Marty Reed teaches at Veritas School, a classical Christian school in Richmond, Virginia. Her twenty years of teaching, coupled with her duties as pastor's wife and mother of two, provide her with excellent insights to share with FOCUS readers.

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  • Jeff Peterson

    I’ve certainly found that proactive prayer can greatly impact a ministry. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen how lack of prayer has noticeable effects as well. I am prone to pray for growth in the size of our school. A better prayer however is that God will bring the exact students He wants into our school and our athletic department.

    • Martha Earwood Reed

      I agree that the lack of prayer has noticeable effects as well! It’s easy to get sucked into praying for the tangible things – enrollment numbers, behavior changes, academic success. You’re right, though, a better prayer is for the intangible things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.