Written by Alexandra Frean
Students sitting exams who think they do not have a prayer have been given a message of hope: they do now.
Mindful of its mission to bring divine inspiration to all corners of modern life in these testing times, the Church of England has published a series of prayers online to help students and teachers to cope with exam stress.
Students may find peace in the prayer that gives thanks for “stories in the Bible that show us that being worried and afraid are common feelings”. They may take heart at the appeal for divine intervention “when things seem impossible”. They may even find the inner grace to “celebrate with all our classmates, families and friends as they fail or as they succeed”.
However, they are less likely to find reassurance in the prayer for teachers that begins: “I don’t suppose you have time for this, Lord”, which laments the tendency of pupils to forget “things that normally they know, like their names and the date” and ends with the words “at this moment they really need your help”.
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The Rev Janina Ainsworth, chief education officer for the Church of England, said that the prayers were intended for use in assemblies but could easily be adapted for personal use by students and teachers seeking peace. “Everyone involved in education knows the pressures of the exam season,” she said. “Whatever one thinks about league tables and the relevance of academic achievement, Christians are called to consider the broader picture.”
The prayers form the latest addition to a regularly updated selection on the Church of England’s website.
The page also offers a prayer for the emergency situations in China and Burma.
The Church has launched several similar ventures in recent months, including a selection of “back to work” prayers released in September 2007 that attracted 10,000 viewings. Prayers for those affected by debt have been viewed 7,500 times since they went online in January.
Surveys conducted in recent years indicate that about two thirds of adults pray, leading the Church of England’s head of research and statistics, the Rev Lynda Barley, to describe prayer as “one of the best-kept secrets in modern Britain”.
The prayers can be found at www.cofe.anglican.org/prayers.
Give us this day
Prayers for primary school pupils
“Dear Lord, even when things seem impossible, help me to trust you. Please give me friends I can rely on and help me listen to adults I can trust. Amen.”
Prayers for secondary school students
“We are in the midst of stressful times. Give us grace to see that it is the making of our success, the making of our characters, the making of our selves.”
Adapted from the collective resource produced by the Culham Institute in association with the National Society