“Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” St. Augustine
When asked to write on the topic of praying for our children, I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the task. I am hardly an expert in how to pray, but I am an eyewitness to what occurs during the school day, which may shed some light on their needs when it comes to praying for them.
As a middle school teacher at Mount de Sales, I consider myself blessed to be able to pray with your children. For twelve years, I have been humbled by the sweet prayers of adolescents. It is often the shared intentions of their hearts that serve as a reminder of how young and innocent they truly are in spite of their best intentions to appear otherwise.
Over the years, I have listened as students prayed for loved ones to get well, deal with stress, be comforted, find work, or simply have a good day. Many times the prayer requests are faithfully mentioned day after day until answered. Witnessing the steadfast faith of so many of my students has influenced the manner in which I pray for my own children. My prayers have gone from praying for their happiness and success to praying for each of my children to possess a kind and resilient spirit.
During my time on the faculty, I have had the privilege of working side by side with holy men and women. Father Cuddy, for whom the middle school building is named, taught me the simplicity and beauty of prayer. Father Frank, our current chaplain, has encouraged me to find the joy in prayer. And my coworkers and friends have been a witness to the love and community fostered by praying for one another. When my children were students at Mount de Sales, it was reassuring to know they were not only able to pray in class, but they were also the recipients of prayer.
Interceding for our children is one way parents and grandparents can actively participate in the journey. Watching our children become more independent is a humbling experience when we realize we can no longer swoop in and easily fix what is wrong. It is a time to come to terms with our lack of control and put our complete trust in God that He will hold each child in the palm of his hand. Through prayer, one may offer the desires of the heart to the One who is in control.
As part of my “research” for this reflection, I asked several of my students to write down what they needed in the way of prayer. The most requested intention was for patience, and that was followed by prayers for the families of their friends. When praying for themselves, students will ask for God to help them with projects and tests, watch over them at practices and during games, and heal their broken bones. Their prayers are a start, but often they aren’t able to put into words their more weighing needs.
Prayer as Encouragement
Spending weekdays with children under the age of 14, enables middle school teachers to daily observe their struggles and triumphs, and identify the areas that only prayer fully addresses. For the child with anxiety, prayer may give him/her the courage to get out of the car in the morning and brave the day. For the grieving child, prayer provides comfort and hope during their most trying time. When the pressures of school become too overwhelming for one, prayer offers an opportunity to reset. It emboldens students to do the right thing when it is difficult to do so, and encourages those who doubt their ability to succeed to keep trying. Perhaps the simplest prayer that can be offered for our children is to know they are loved, for it is in this knowledge they are able to flourish and be the people God has created them to be.
Of the three theological virtues, faith, hope and love, the greatest is love.
What better way is there to show our love for our children than to pray for them? And when we pray, we witness our love for them in the most powerful of ways.
Like the mother of St. Augustine, St. Monica, who doggedly prayed for her son’s conversion, may we be brave enough to fully entrust the care of our children to God and may He fill them with His peace and give them eyes to see what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and worthy of praise.”
In a world where there is suffering and division it is important to instruct our children in the ways that feed their souls and inspire them to lead lives of service while glorifying God.
By Carla Barwick, 8th Grade Religion