Here’s an important tip for Bible teachers and small group leaders: pray real prayers.
You may be thinking, “Uh, Glenn, I don’t pray fake prayers. And how is this related to teaching?”
Stick with me, you’ll understand what I’m talking about soon.
Practically every human being has a finely-tuned “credibility meter” that assesses the genuineness, sincerity, and transparency of other people. Ever heard a sales pitch and noticed that the needle on your sincerity meter didn’t move off zero?
This “meter” is working nearly all the time, even on you when you are teaching!
So here’s why I’m talking about real prayers.
The problem with a lot of prayers before the lesson and after the lesson is that they’re little more than bookends around the lesson. They don’t add anything in content. They sound like formulas. At least some of the “right” words are there, but they may have nothing to do with the lesson at all. Eight times out of ten the prayer is RUSHED because we’ve got “more important stuff to do!” What happens? People aren’t listening to your prayers, learning from them, or praying *with* you. And their internal meter reports a low score, so they’re not as interested in the lesson, nor are they likely to remember the key ideas.
So the answer is to pray real prayers. Said another way, Great Bible Teachers actually pray, not just mouth words.
Remember to WHOM you speak! The Lord Almighty has invited you into His presence and speak directly with Him.
The up-front prayer needs to be about connecting with the Lord, inviting His power to be at work in the class (and beyond). It’s perfectly appropriate to pray that you, too, would be open to what God has to teach you.
The closing prayer should reinforce the application of the lesson (that’s why we’re all there, right!?) and help “launch” people into further action. You may want to invite the Lord to reinforce everything important in the coming days in your hearts and minds.
Both opening and closing prayers need to be from the heart. It is better not to pray than to pray mouthed words that are disconnected from your heart.
Authentic prayer will really help your students grow from the lesson time. This is spiritual work — we’re teaching to change lives, not to tickle their ears. And this is important modeling prayer for them, so they can learn how to pray more effectively themselves.
Here’s a key question to ask: “Can your students join in and pray these prayers with you, alongside of you?” You want these prayers before and after your teaching time to be a fellowship of prayer.