Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Praying with Them

One of the things I always do in my homeroom is ask the kids if they have prayer requests. Over the years I have prayed for many sick and injured pets, math tests, and soccer games. I never pray that their team will win, which is what they always want me to pray; instead I say something like, "Please let everyone have a good time and nobody get hurt." My all-time favorite request remains one from several years ago. The student was given to telling interminable stories during prayer request time, and she started this one by telling about how she and her family had been doing some painting, and a lizard had fallen into the paint and drowned. I didn't know where this was going, and determined in my mind that I would not pray for a dead lizard. My theology won't stretch that far. When I asked what exactly I was supposed to pray for, the girl responded, "Pray that it won't happen again."

My current homeroom had a teacher in the past who taught them about the "unspoken request." For those who didn't grow up around evangelicalese, this means that you want people to pray for you but you don't want to specify why. We always have several of these. Some of the kids will say things like, "I have twelve unspoken requests."

I have prayed for many kidnapping victims (I wrote a bit about that here). One year we had a student whose younger brother was kidnapped and we got all the students together and prayed for his release. Afterwards I questioned how wise we were to get all the hysterical middle schoolers together like that, but when the boy was released within the hour, it was a very faith-building experience for our kids. Many of them still talk about it, even some who have graduated from high school by now. I have also prayed for sick people, for elections, for family problems. My kids often ask me to pray for dead people, and I don't do that (I'm far too Protestant), though of course I'll pray for the people left behind.

This year we have the same mix as usual, but one request really stuck with me this past week. The student said that he had had a friend die during the earthquake, and that now the friend's mother was, in his words, "going crazy." I keep thinking of that woman, and of all the other mothers and fathers and other relatives who are grieving unspeakable losses. I keep praying for them.


Janet said...

Ah, the "unspoken." I haven't heard that in awhile. I suppose the only logically consistent response would be a moment of silence. (Or 12 moments of silence, as the case may be.)

Ruth said...

Twelve minutes of silence? With that bunch? Hahahahahahahahahaha....