by Elmer Towns
As Mike arrived home after Sunday dinner, he grabbed his Bible, Sunday school manual, and class book from the back seat and carried them into his den. Closing the door to his study, Mike opened his class book and began praying over the names of his students. Each line represented someone he felt God had especially entrusted to his keeping.
Mike thanked God for the opportunity to teach. He also thanked God for each one who had been in class that morning. Each week he felt a sense of fulfillment as he taught the lesson and saw the response among class members as they discovered something new about God or themselves
He took a minute or two to also ask God to forgive his shortcomings as a teacher. Mentioning his own shortcomings caused him to remember problems several in the class were struggling with. He prayed for them.
Mike glanced at the quarterly and noticed next week's lesson topic. "God help me to learn this week's lesson well and communicate it effectively," he prayed.
By the time the hour had passed, everyone in the class had been mentioned in prayer a couple of times. Sunday afternoon wasn't the only time they would be prayed for this week, but Mike had made a commitment to himself and the Lord to pray through his class every Sunday afternoon for an hour. He taught an adult Bible class Sunday morning, but sometimes he felt like his real ministry took place Sunday afternoon.
The most effective ministry of Sunday school teachers is accomplished on his/her knees in prayer before God.
As a teacher, you are not prepared to teach until you have prepared yourself through prayer. Prayer preparation involves more than preparing a class by asking them to bow their heads in prayer. Also, prayer preparation means more than asking God to bless your time of study and preparation.
First, pray for a teachable spirit. Ask God to make you teachable. Before you can teach others, the Master Teacher Himself must first teach you. As you approach your Scripture lesson, ask God to guide your study. Pray like David, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law" (Ps. 119:18). But as you pray, be sure you are willing to learn. Jesus said, "If anyone is willing to do God's will, he shall know the truth of doctrine" (John 7:17, AT).
Second, pray also for the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in your class. Sometimes you may feel you are the only channel in the classroom, but you're not. Jesus promised, "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). He also said "The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things" (John 14:26). This promise referred to the Holy Spirit Who will become the teacher through you. The Holy Spirit indwells you and wants to teach others through you.
Third, pray for guidance in lesson preparation. Anytime you sit down before the Scriptures in your lesson preparation, ask God to guide your study. Most Christians have a habit of asking God's blessing upon food when they sit for a meal. Likewise, get into the habit of asking God's blessing upon the Word of God when you sit down to study. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5, 6).
Fourth, pray for those in your class. Teaching the Word of God is earnest business done for eternity. When you teach, you are attempting to change the destiny of each student. Lost students will be presented with salvation, and backslidden students will be exhorted to repent. You can't effect these changes in your student's heart, only God can do it. Therefore, avail yourself of God's power by praying for conviction of sin (John 16:7-11), for the impact of the Scriptures (Rom. 1:16), and for the moving of the Holy Spirit in each student's life (Acts 1:8).
Fifth, pray also for growth. God answers the prayer of those who ask for their ministry to be enlarged, but prayer alone cannot build a Sunday school. God will not do what He has commanded us to do. We are commanded to go reach people. Classes grow when teachers are busy visiting, phoning, mailing, and praying all week.
From What Every Sunday School Teacher Should Know, Copyright 2002, Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003
Used by permission