Scholar’s Compass: Prayerful Pedagogy

journal 2The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. – James 5:16b-18 (NIV)


Learning a language is an exciting endeavor–the beginning of an adventure that leads to new relationships, opportunities, and experiences. As a German instructor, I have the privilege of being a guide in the early stages of this journey, when students progress from knowing almost nothing about German (beyond Bratwurst and Gesundheit) to conversing about their families, childhoods, and dreams for the future–in German! So despite piles of grading and lesson planning, I am thankful for my part in their education.

As significant as these adventures in German are, every semester I am reminded that my classroom intersects with journeys beyond German grammar and culture. In essays entitled “Meine Familie” and in conversations about childhood designed for practicing the past tense, students discuss the brokenness within their homes and hardships they’ve faced. This semester, I have already learned that one of my pupils battled cancer as a child. A young man from a previous semester explained that he was no longer sure where his father lived. Both discussed their situations within the context of a language exercise.

Have you encountered similar situations in your classroom? It is difficult to discern how to help students when their challenges lie beyond our job descriptions. But the New Testament writer James assures us that we have a “powerful and effective” means of supporting them. James goes so far as to compare the Christian’s prayer to the prophet Elijah’s prayer, reminding us that Elijah’s access to God was no greater than ours since he was a “human being, even as we are.” Prayer is powerful and effective because God welcomes his people into his presence–a privilege that Jesus bought for us with his blood (Hebrews 10:19).

So let’s pray diligently for our students. We may be the only ones who have ever prayed for some of them. God has led them to our classrooms so that we can not only support their academic development, but also bring them before the Lord’s throne of mercy. He is showing us–through homework assignments, essays, and classroom interactions–their need for his healing and grace. Whether we’re praying for growth in their knowledge of a subject or grace in difficult personal situations, we can play a significant role in asking for God’s generosity. Join me in praying for our students’ academic success and their physical and emotional health, and that they would love and follow Jesus Christ.


Are there students in your classroom this semester who are in urgent need of prayer?

How can you better integrate prayer into your practices as you prepare and grade?


Dear Father, thank you for the privilege of teaching and for the students you have brought into my classroom this semester. Please give me wisdom as I serve and pray for them. Bless them with academic success and with the peace of your forgiveness and love. Amen.

Photo of the Journal by Refracted Moments™

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Bethany Bowen-Wefuan

Bethany Bowen-Wefuan is a PhD student in German Studies at the Carolina-Duke German Studies Program. In addition to studying 19th century German literature and teaching, she spends most of her time with friends, family, and her sweet husband Dieter.

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