Looking for ways to foster meaningful prayer experiences in your religious education classes? Try assembling students as prayer partners for a quarter, semester, year, or month.
Students share some personal prayer intentions or struggles with each other. They pray for each other and their intentions as a part of their own personal prayer practices. They meet in class during dedicated times to discuss the progress of these intentions and share how they have prayed for each other during a given week.
I always frame this assignment from the standpoint of accountability. We need to hold each other accountable if we want to pray sufficiently. Talking about our prayer intentions with others helps us to reflect on our needs and desires for ourselves and others and helps frame them in a way that is meaningful.
This is also an excellent opportunity for students who don’t hang out to develop meaningful relationships. This is why I suggest assigning the groups either randomly or to intentionally divide cliques.
Some Class Prayer Partner Best Practices
- Dedicate a scheduled time each week for prayer partners to meet (Fridays or middle of the week usually work best)
- Mix up the partners
- Provide students with the opportunity to pray for each other (or over one another) in class as a part of regular opening or closing prayers.
- Encourage students to meet and talk about their prayers outside of class
Giving Ownership of Class Prayer to Prayer Partners
One thing you might consider is giving ownership of class prayer over to the students. With their prayer partners or a combination of partners, have the student groups plan prayer before class for specific dates. Create a sign-up calendar and pass it around the room. Post the calendar in a public Google Doc or Google Calendar as a reminder to the students. Also, be sure to remind them when their prayer day is coming up. Meet with groups briefly after class on the session before they lead the class in prayer.
Be sure to model various methods and types of prayers so the students have a list of ideas for how they should lead prayer. Give them some websites or prayer books to look through for relevant prayers. Require that each person in the group have an active role in leading the prayer. If you are in a Catholic school, grade the students on effort and participation. You might also use an e-mail service like MailChimp to schedule email reminders to groups of students. This is to add an extra level of motivation to develop a quality prayer service for their classmates.
Student-led Prayer Best Practices
- Model prayers that work
- Give them guidance and advice on how to lead prayer
- Use a calendar system or e-mail provider to automate reminders
I think you will find these prayer partners and groups to be very beneficial to both you and your students. The more ownership you can give students over their faith and prayer lives, the more they will learn about themselves, God, and others.