I teach grade school music. It is such a blessing, but at times very difficult. Recently, I was really struggling with one of my classes. I was getting very frustrated with all the talking, joking around, and negative attitudes. Not to mention, we weren’t getting much accomplished. I did not like the kind of teacher I was turning into during that class, but I didn’t know what else to do. I tried talking with the class as a whole, talking with individual students, and finding different ways to motivate them. I knew that these students were really good kids, but for whatever reason these rehearsals were not showcasing that. Finally, I realized the answer was so simple. I needed to pray. Not only did I need to pray, but we needed to pray. I’m blessed to teach in a Catholic school where prayer, of course, is encouraged. I thought that maybe starting our rehearsal with prayer would set the tone for the rest of the class and remind my students why we were there. So I gave it a try! I began with thanking God for bringing us together to share our talents. I asked him to help us work together as a team and to develop these talents He gave us. Then we prayed together a Hail Mary and finished with asking the patron saint of music, Saint Cecilia, to pray for us. The spirit of the rehearsal was much more positive and productive. Over the last few weeks, we have continued to begin our class with prayer, and I have noticed the difference! It struck me that the most important answer to my prayer, though, was the change inside me. I was given the grace to be more patient and kind, which made all the difference.
How many times do I try to overcome daily struggles on my own, when things would be much easier if I would just ask for some help from the One who can help the best? I think sometimes our prayers consist of so many “big things,” like cures for illnesses, that we forget about the “little things,” like the grace to use kind words with other people. Prayer changes us. I think that is why St. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It’s not always the “falling off the horse” moments that change us. Sometimes it takes a long time, but if we’re constantly praying, gradually our hearts and our lives will change.
Lent is the perfect time to change our habits. Make it a habit this Lent to ask God for help in all areas of your life. Pray without ceasing this Lent. It will change everything!