Students need to know that they can talk to God about their every little thought- however, encouraging this kind of prayer in a classroom can be tough. We want our kids to understand that we as a Church need to pray for each other and praise God together, but how do we do this in a classroom of 30 kids?
Sure as the sunrise, just as soon as I would get rolling with a lesson, a kid would raise a hand to tell me that their dog was having surgery/grandma hurt their ankle/dad was traveling...you get the idea. I wanted to encourage and validate their request to make their intentions known and to pray as a class, but the younger the kids get, the more likely it is that they don't have the social skills to know when is the best time to bring up requests and praises. Also, once one kid shares their story, the other 9 or 29 are clamoring to do the same.
Again, I want my students (and yours) to want to pray for each other. I am not trying to say that my math lesson is more important that a child's grandma's hurt ankle. However, we all have a limited amount of time and have to manage somehow, so I created a prayer jar.
The kids are always welcome to tell me about a prayer request they have. Depending on the situation or goings-on of the class, I may talk with them a while, or I may say, "That is a great thing for us to be praying for. Can you go add it to the prayer jar?"
Students could then write the request, drop it in, and move on. Kids also had an opportunity to write anonymous prayer requests, which was also important. They got really good at using the jar in the faith corner during appropriate times and not interrupting others. I even had kids each day that would automatically add all of the names of fellow classmates when they were absent- praying for a speedy recovery if they were sick or safe travels if they were gone on vacation, for example. It worked wonderfully.
Not to lose the aspect of praying for all of these requests, occasionally, often at the end of the week, I would pick up the prayer jar and we would pray in general for all of the things inside it, known only to God. As a class, the kids praised Him for the good that had happened and asked for his help with what each was facing.
Prayer requests acknowledged and class time used wisely. It was one of the best classroom management tools that I made last year, and I think that it will continue working for a long time.