Friday, August 31, 2012

A Teacher's Prayer

School has started or will be starting very soon for all of us. It’s time to pray. Our schools are the most vibrant communities in the nation. Our children represent the best of us and are image bearers of our Lord. Over this Labor Day weekend, let’s engage our hearts in a school year passion for the power of prayer – a true labor of love. Prayer is our gift from God to communicate with the One Who has made everything and gives us the opportunity to lift those in need to Him.  Where else can we find so many needs in one place as our schools? Prayer for our schools is the greatest gift we can give as teachers. We’ve all heard about the power of a praying mother for her children, but can you imagine the impact of a praying teacher for all of his/her students?
When Jesus’s disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, He created a pattern of prayer for all of us in the “Our Father.” In Matt. 6:9, He taught us to first say, “Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name….” This power beginning of prayer is to teach us and remind us that He is the reason for everything we have and to give the proper awe, respect and love in our prayers for Him before we start making our requests.  So what does it mean to hallow His Name?  His Name is powerful. It is all encompassing. It is all that is good and wonderful. As we come humbly before Him, describe Who He is by using a form of “The Teacher’s Prayer.”
Years ago, Judy Turpen taught us how to pray in the ABCs. She had learned to hallow His name by attributing an adjective or noun describing Him in alphabetical order. When I heard that opening of the prayer, I was struck by the simplistic beauty of designating honor and respect one letter at a time. I have since taught teachers to pray in this manner and have nicknamed the ABC pattern of hallowing His Name – The Teacher’s Prayer. I personally prayerwalk each day and begin my prayers in this manner. It’s creative, invigorating and a challenge to think of names and adjectives that describe Him each day. Before I ever get to requests and thanksgiving, I have spent a good deal of time praising His Holy Name.  This is an example:
Dear Heavenly Father, hallowed be Thy Name. You are the Authority over all life, the Amazing Grace for us all, Beautiful Beyond Description, the Bright Morning Star, Blessed Be Thy Name, Courageous, Counselor, Comforter, Creative God, Designer, Director, Divine Redeemer, Everlasting, Excellent, Father, Faithful and Fearless.  You are the God Who is Generous and the Genius of Creation, Holy, Holy, Holy, the Hope of mankind and High Above us all, Intercessor, Incredible, Intelligent Designer. You are Jesus, Jehovah and the Jewel of the universe, King of all Kings, the Key to everything we need, the Lord of all Lords, the Light onto my path and the Lamp unto my feet.  You are Mighty, Marvelous and Most Holy, the Name above all Names, Near to me and You will Never leave me nor forsake me.  You are the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Powerful, High Priest. You are the Quintessential Essence of all things and the Ruler of all.  You are all the Riches and Resources of the earth and the Salvation of all mankind, the Stability of our times.  You are the great Teacher and Testimony for all to see.  You are Understanding, Unmatched in Your beauty and Ubiquitously mine; Victorious, Visionary and the Voice we want to hear. You are the Word, Wonderful and Welcome in my life, the eXpert, eXcellent and eXperienced One. You are Yashua and we Yield to You; the Zenith of all things and the Zeal for life – Hallowed be Thy Name.
This prayer is adaptable to any setting, any situation and makes a great prayer starter when beginning a prayer group at your school. Why not go around the room and ask each person to describe God’s name with a letter from the alphabet? It’s interesting and vibrant because it never comes out the same and awesome in respect to the One to Whom we prayer. On the Christian Educators (CEAI) website, we have a pamphlet available with some great ideas for prayer including praying in the ABCs.  It is a free download and can be shared with others. May God give you the strength and desire to pray regularly for your students, colleagues, administration and parents while entering prayer in this most respectful and complementary way. 

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gentleness in the Classroom

As I began reflecting on what it means to have gentleness in the classroom, I felt so inadequate because I don’t feel gentle most of the time. It is one of the parts of the Fruit of the Spirit that is a weakness for me and often an area of repentance.  However, as a grandma, I relish the opportunity to be gentle with my granddaughters by giving them a place where they are safe, comfortable and at peace. Isn’t that what we all strive for in our classrooms? Don’t we aspire to create an atmosphere that is safe, pleasant, calm, comfortable and peaceful? Gentleness is our ability to give others that sense of “I want to be here.” Gentleness in the classroom is our purposeful attempt to make all our students, even the unlovables, feel safe and welcomed.  No learning can begin until there is that sense of trust and reliability. Being gentle does not mean weakness.  In fact, it takes a lot more strength to be gentle under adverse conditions than to be powerful. Anyone can intimidate a child into conforming, but it takes the Spirit of God to consistently be gentle on a daily basis.

What might a gentle classroom look like? One of the synonyms for gentle is placid. As a lake without ripples, waves or turbulence, a gentle classroom will have a sense of calm. As the gentle leader, our students will respond to “events” in our classrooms as we do.  Ask any substitute teacher about classroom personalities. If the teacher is loud, the class is often loud.  If the teacher is calm and soft spoken, the class, in general, takes on those qualities. It’s a great experiment to test this theory.  Speak in your normal tone while giving instructions or lecture and then mix it up with a very soft voice. Our students will immediately notice the difference, perhaps strain to listen, and if given the opportunity to respond, they will answer in a quiet tone.  Our classrooms environments are set by our standards, our mannerisms and our display of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Let’s be purposeful in being gentle to these precious children we will inevitably be making an impact on this year. Let’s strive to be gentler in order to give our students a calm, orderly, and safe place to learning.

The greatest teacher who ever lived, Jesus, was described as gentle shepherd. What a compliment if we could be like Him! These four verses are my favorite reference to gentle in the Word.  May you and your students be blessed with a gentle classroom this year.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Philippians 4:5
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry byclicking here.