The most disturbing thing I faced as a schoolkid - totally minor league compared to recent tragic events - were the outbursts of a teacher. When he got upset with the class, or with individuals, he just seemed to lose it. He never hit anyone, but there was a constant fear of where his screaming fits and the loud banging of desks and doors might lead.
At my age, I just cowered - it was the only reaction I knew. I was afraid not only when my teacher got mad but each morning when I was heading for his class. It was not a happy time.
Recently I heard a friend tell about an experience similar to mine. But there was a difference, in that by the time she had entered second grade, she knew how to pray. In Sunday School, she was often given assignments to help her learn about God.
One of those assignments was to memorize scriptural passages that she found particularly helpful. For example, she came across this statement in the Bible and decided to learn it: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7). Being aware of "power, and of love, and of a sound mind" is thinking like Jesus did. And Jesus healed by his prayer.
At the time my friend was memorizing this particular passage, the kids in her class were really giving the teacher a hard time. They would refuse to do what he said, and he'd react by making them put their heads on their desks. Then he'd turn out the lights.
One afternoon the class was being especially disruptive. Without warning, the teacher started yelling furiously. He shouted for them to put their heads down, turned out the lights angrily, and stormed out. He slammed the door behind him. To some of the kids that was scary.
As my friend tells it, "I put my head down on the desk, and I realized I could pray. So I began to recite to myself that statement from Second Timothy that I had worked so hard to memorize. I said it over and over in my head, until I understood what it was saying: that God was the only power and gives us the power to be unafraid, loving, and sound. I realized that all of us kids were safe with God, whether we were at home or at school, or anywhere. God was here, taking care of us, and nothing could disrupt or interfere with Him."
So what happened? My friend says, "A few minutes later, the teacher returned with a completely different attitude and apologized to the whole class." This change proved to be more than just a momentary shift in attitude. By the end of the year, a very loving relationship had been established between that class and that teacher.
I would give anything to have known what my friend knew about how to pray, when I had to deal with my own short-tempered teacher. Maybe I would have had a happier year. And maybe I would have been able to help my teacher and fellow pupils, as it seems to me my friend did. I feel her turning to God brought an atmosphere of safety and happiness to her school because she could see that He was there. Because she knew that God is good and that good has all the power.
The textbook of Christian Science asks: "God being everywhere and all-inclusive, how can He be absent or suggest the absence of omnipresence and omnipotence? How can there be more than all?" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 287.) The implication is that God can't be absent, and that there truly can't be more than God's power! Prayer is always based on that fact in one way or another.
If a single child's prayer made such a difference in the atmosphere in her school, then we all - children and adults - could surely help children in schools everywhere, by praying to see what my friend saw that day.
shall humble himself as
this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. And whoso shall
receive one such little child
in my name receiveth me.
Matthew 18:4, 5