I haven’t always prayed. In fact, more days than not, I should pray more than I do. I usually find myself on my face, when all of MY attempts to correct a situation have become dust in my hands.
And even as I have prayed and prepared for this post, I have struggled, started and stopped, and started again. I felt a writer’s block. I just started over again and this time asked G-d, “Please help me, and give me the words to say.”
Who am I to tell you how to pray?
Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians encourages believers to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) HA! That is easier said than done. But that IS the will of God for you.
He also tells the Philippian believers, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6)
What he doesn’t say is what to pray, or how to pray. And that will be the scope of this post.
I wish I could tell you that praying comes easy, but for most believers, we don’t often know what to ask for. I spent the better half of my twenties trying to sort out “my will” vs. “His will” and finally came to the conclusion that just because I ask for something, doesn’t oblige Him to say, “yes.” So I could relax and ask away, knowing that He will only grant that which He determines is best for us.
I also used to wrestle with the notion that the best answers come on the heels of the right questions, and so I would wait to ask anything of G-d until I finally had come up with a good question. But one thing has never changed, I am a questioner. I have always pondered, questioned, questioned some more, and then question the answers.
And yet, I confess to you this day, that I still find myself exhausting my strength on a problem before remembering to pray first. (This is NOT the model we see our Rabbi Yeshua using)
So, knowing you are reading a list of suggestions from a flawed and very human writer, I now give you my top ten list of things to pray as a Homeschooling Parent. (Answering both the What and the How at the same time)
- When in doubt, ask for wisdom (and faith)
- When stuck, ask for help. I often pray, “Father, I don’t even know the right question to ask. Please help me to ask the good questions here, trusting that You have both the Right Question and the Right Answer.
- When lesson planning, ask “What are You trying to teach _______ (insert name) through this? And what are You trying to teach me through this?”
- Never ask “Why? Why? Why did that happen to me/us?” This line of prayers is usually borne out of self pity. Instead ask, “What purpose did that experience serve?” or “How could I have handled that better?”
- Not sure what to pray? Try the siddur. We are fond of saying the Shema and an excerpt from the Amidah [note] the Amidah is the “Standing Prayer” used in Jewish Liturgy. (Most days we start off our school sessions asking G-d to help us obey cheerfully, followed by “And endow us graciously from Yourself with wisdom, insight, and discernment. Blessed are You Adonai, gracious Giver of Wisdom.)
- When discouraged, give thanks. There are literally hundreds of Blessings (opportunities to Bless G-d, or Thank Him) for EVERY facet of human existence. I begin every day thanking Him for returning to me my soul and having faith in me (to do His will) once again. (This prayer is called the Modeh Ani)
- When overwhelmed, stop. Some things can ONLY be handled by fasting and prayer.
- When sorting through a curriculum, I ask, “What parts of this book are really important to you?” “How do I get ______ (insert name) excited about learning this?” And “Teach me to number my days.”
- When bored, pray to music. There are websites out there, and youtube videos where some of your favorite prayers are already set to music. If you happen to play music, even better! One of my MOST favorite ways to pray are “Harp and Bowl” style prayers. And just know, you can never pray “TOO MUCH” anyway!
- And finally, when afraid, my favorite prayer is, “G-d, please take away my fears, and direct my attention to what you would have me be.”
And, do yourself a favor, don’t EVER pray for patience. I did that once, and ended up in every LONG line in town. Why? Because the best way to learn patience is to wait for things. My guess is, if you are homeschooling your children, Hashem is providing you with PLENTY of opportunities to practice patience and self control….even before breakfast! Instead, pray that He would pour out a Spirit of Joy, the Joy that comes from His salvation on your family today. It is always much easier to be patient with a joyful heart!
May Adonai bless you and keep you on your journey!