Study materials for Religious Education


Section 07: Part 1:
Prayer and teaching pupils about prayer in religious education

This section sets out to identify and discuss key issues and principles that might apply to school and classroom prayer for students in Catholic schools. And this is complemented by the need to work out how best to study prayer, and to educate students in prayer across the K-12 religion curriculum.

As for all sections, view the introductory video. Then listen to the content lecture audio while attending to the main text file on this page. Arrange to have the audio file and the text page open together so you can work your way through both in an integrated fashion.

Introductory video to this section

1. Introductory video giving an introduction to the content covered in this section. Click the icon or here to view the introductory video in streaming mp4 format. Or right click if you want to download the video using the "save link" option


Brief overview of content of this section

Panoramic perspective and key issues about prayer in the classroom and teaching about prayer (curriculum for prayer) across the K-12 religion curriculum. 

Identification of what needs to be covered both in the practice of prayer and in educating children and adolescents in prayer (Will complement work done on prayer and liturgy in other units)

This part is primarily experiential looking at examples of prayers and of the meanings that they have. The second part will build on this and will develop perspective on what needs to be taken into account in both the experience of prayer and in educating in relation to prayer.

Some examples other than typical prayers will be introduced to show how quite a variety of different experiences of prayer can be included in classroom religious education. For example: poetry can be used, extracts from different writings can be used, prayers from different religions, as well as songs and music and audio visuals.


Audio lecture mp3 file of this section

2. The audio file lecture
Click the icon or here to listen to the mp3 audio lecture or to download the complete file, right click and use the "save link" option.
This presents the content for this section (Note: Should be 7 and not 4 from an earlier program) -- the main presentation and principal source of information on the topic. The audio lecture will refer every now and again to particular parts of the accompanying text below that will easily be identified. -- here you will need to pause the audio and look at the pertinent parts of the text. The audio lecture and the text go together.

The written text for this section (Study the text in conjunction with the audio lecture)

Part one: Examples of praying, prayers and reflection on their meaning
A contemporary post-modern prayer
Example of a traditional hymn from the 19th and 20th centuries
Contrasts in prayer: A traditional in comparison with a post modern
The meaning and popularity of some prayers cut across many centuries --St Francis prayer
Examples of prayer in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures
From scriptural prayer to liturgical prayer – the Benedictus and the Sanctus in the Eucharist
Examples prayers in the form of contemporary songs.
Example of the symbolism in some contemporary songs
An example of a silent visual prayer -- on some man-made but natural beauty
Visual prayers in the form of selection is made by primary school children
Link to section 4 part 2
The assessment task- contribution to the forum 4: Note this task needs to follow completion of both parts 4.1 and 4.2

Section 7.1: Examples of praying, prayers and reflection on their meaning

A contemporary ‘postmodern' prayer

Prayer as a silent Hope

Prayer though it accomplishes nothing material, constitutes something spiritual.
It will not bring rain, but until rain comes, it may cultivate hope and resignation,
and may prepare the heart for any issue, opening up a vista
in which human prosperity will appear in its conditioned existence,
and conditional value.

A candle wasting itself before an image will prevent no misfortune,
but it may bear witness to some silent hope or relieve some sorrow by expressing it.
It may soften a little the bitter sense of impotence which would consume
a mind aware of physical dependence but not of spiritual dominion.

George Santayana, philosopher and poet (1863-1962)

Example of a sentimental communion him 19th and 20th century

Soul of my saviour: Popular hymn sung at Catholic Mass in the 1950s

Soul of my Saviour sanctify my breast
Body of Christ be Thou my saving guest.
Blood of my Saviour bathe me in Thy tide.
Wash me with water, flowing from Thy side.
Deep in Thy wounds Lord, Hide and shelter me.
So shall I never, never part from Thee.

Contrasts in prayer

Traditional prayer An example of prayer within cultural postmodernity

Soul of my saviour sanctify my breast.
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest.
Blood of my saviour, bathe me in thy tide.
Wash me with water, flowing from by side.
Deep in they wounds Lord, hide and shelter me.
So shall I never never part from Thee.

God, I'm not sure if you're there.
I'm not sure if you can hear me.
But if you can, I could sure do with a bit of help -- right now.

I hope that there is some meaning and purpose to life.
Perhaps you could help me to learn better from my own experience and find some wisdom that can point me in the right direction.
I don't know if Jesus is your son or not or what that means anyway.
But he seems to be as divine as a human being could be.
Could I find anyone better show me what God is like in human terms?

Some prayers cut across all the usual periods of cultural history

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me so love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is a doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy

Oh divine master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Attributed to St Francis of Assisi  13th century.

Prayer in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures

Psalm 23 The Lord Our Shepherd

(Good News Bible translation)

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, Lord ,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.

You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
and your house will be my home as long as I live.

Psalm 139 God's Complete Knowledge and Care

Lord , you have examined me and you know me.
You know everything I do;
from far away you understand all my thoughts.
You see me, whether I am working or resting;
you know all my actions.
Even before I speak,
you already know what I will say.
You are all around me on every side;
you protect me with your power.
Your knowledge of me is too deep;
it is beyond my understanding.

  Where could I go to escape from you?
Where could I get away from your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there;
if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there.
If I flew away beyond the east
or lived in the farthest place in the west,
you would be there to lead me,
you would be there to help me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
or the light around me to turn into night,
but even darkness is not dark for you,
and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You created every part of me;
you put me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.
When my bones were being formed,
carefully put together in my mother's womb,
when I was growing there in secret,
you knew that I was there—
you saw me before I was born.
The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book,
before any of them ever began.

O God, how difficult I find your thoughts;
how many of them there are!
If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.


Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts.
24  Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.

From Scriptural prayer to liturgical prayer

Liturgical use of the Benedictus and Sanctus

Isaiah 6:3:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!"
they cried one to the other.
"All the earth is filled with his glory!"

Mathew 21:9:

The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest."

The Christian Sanctus in the liturgy of Eucharist as interpreted by the African Congolese singers 1961

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Click here or the icon to hear the Sanctus from Missa Luba

Holy, holy, holy,
Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are filled with Your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna to GOD in the highest.

Prayers in contemporary songs

No man's Land   (The Green Fields of France)   Eric Bogle
(Scottish Australian artist. A song about the tragedy of suffering in war) Click here or the photograph for the song.

Well how do you do, Private William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your grave side?
A rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone that you were only 19
when you joined the glorious fallen in 1916.
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, William McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly?
did they sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing 'The Last Post' in chorus?
Did the pipes play 'The Flowers o' the Forest'?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined
And though you died back in 1916
To that loyal heart are you always 19.
Or are you just a stranger without even a name
Forever enclosed behind some glass-pane
In an old photograph torn and tattered and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Well, the sun it shines down on these green fields of France,
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance.
The trenches are vanished now under the plough
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it is still No Man's Land
And the countless white crosses in mute witness stand.
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation that was butchered and downed.

And I can't help but wonder now Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause?
Did you really believe them that this war would end war?
The suffering, the sorrow, some the glory, the shame -
The killing and dying - it was all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they beat the drum slowly?
did they sound the pipe lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing 'The Last Post' in chorus?
Did the pipes play 'The Flowers o' the Forest'?


Eric Bogle

Eric Bogle talks about his father:  From the day I was born to the day my father died, we were strangers to each other.  After he died, I was cleaning out his room and found a bundle upon which he'd written little poems setting out his hopes, dreams, his love for his family, etc.  I felt angry and cheated, because here in my hand was one line of communication between us. Too late, too late.

Click here or the photograph for the song.

These days my life seems somehow
Like a tired old cliche
A bad movie scene that just goes on and on
With dialogue like
"It's so sad how fast time slips away"
Or "You never really miss them
Till they're gone".
Funny how these old cliches come true
I never thought I'd miss him but I do.

My father died in summer, And all he left behind Were little scraps of paper,
Little scraps of rhyme. I read them,
felt something inside me break And angrily cried out "Too late, too late!"
Surely there must be something better Surely there must be something better.

He and I were always strangers Searchin' for someone
I was lookin' for a hero, and he a friend
So while I searched for my father He was lookin' for his son
And strangers we remained until the end.
But the man who wrote His heart into those rhymes
I know he could have been A good friend of mine.

So, I sit here where he lived and died,
As the ghosts around me weave
As evening shadows lengthen on the wall
And in this bare and empty room It's easy to believe
That he never lived here at all
But the little scraps of paper in my hand
Prove he lived to me; the father and the man.

I LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE     Billy Joel (sung by Cleo Laine)

A song about self-esteem and about not stressing about trying to become what will please others, Related to the need for confidence in one's own identity.

Click here or the photograph for the song.

Don't go changing to try and please me; you never let me down before.
Don't imagine you're too familiar, and I don't see you any more.
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble; We never could have come this far, Oh no baby.
I've took the good times, I'll take the bad times, I'll take you just the way you are.

Don't go trying some new fashions, don't change the colour of your hair. Oh no,
You always have my unspoken passion, although I might not seem to care.
Don't want clever conversation, I never want to work that hard.
I just want someone that I can talk to, I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be, the same old someone that I knew.
What will it take for you to believe in me the way that I believe in you.
I said I love you and that's for ever, and this I promise from the heart, Oh yes.
I couldn't love you any better, I love you just the way you are.

I said I love you and that's forever, and this I promise from the heart, Oh baby.
I couldn't love you any better, I love you just the way you are. I love you just the way you are.

The way you are. Just the way you are; don't change, I love you the way you are. Just the way you are.


A song about addressing problems with the stress of contemporary fast-paced living.

Click here or the photograph for the song.

Original You Tube video



Janis Ian (1967):   I'd like to say before singing this controversial song, take 32, that this isn't about anybody's God in specific on account of some of my best friends are gods. This is about a new Christ cardiac hero who is the latest hero and the latest leader of the younger generation

A song where the meaning is puzzling. It seems to reflect a range of ideas through a raft of metaphors and images. A mixture of the need for a relevant Christian church as well as a relevant image for Jesus. Perhaps some reflection of the negative image of religion and of what Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye said was "Holy Joe language"

Click here or the photograph for the song.

Yesterday's preacher today's bikini beacher,
They've stolen your clerical robes and your bible's been thrown.
Your virgin red crown of thorns has turned into ivory horns and your corner throne it has become a corner stone.
The crucifix you prayed on turned to jailhouse bars.
Silver chain, you left out in the rain to glow with dust and turn to seaweed tangled in your heart,
How does it feel to pull out the nails and find you still can walk?

Oh you can't feel at all from your self-imposed rack on the wall
The tighter you drive the nails the harder you fall.
So come on down, come off it Sir,
You're going to get hurt.

Oh the holy water you bathe in mingles with the sewer
All your disciples have reclaimed their rifles and taken the cure.
Your lectures of ways are only today's pool‑room jokes
Remaining scrawled on the walls of tenement halls and bathroom bowls.
As jingle bells cry pay us well you'll go to hell
Freedom's chains, they bind your pain and tie you well.
But how could you know the gallows hold you weighs you down?
Now isn't it boss, you don't need a cross, to get round.


OH your eyes that cried for mankind's pride now they're covered with shades
As the children of God trample unshod past your mildly grace,
New Christ, hipster, cardiac hero of 2000 years past your mind
He spits at your feet crying we have no need of a God each of us is his own.
Yesterday's preacher today's bikini beacher, they've stolen your clerical robes and your bible's been thrown.
You must have a cross but they've taken your God and shot cheer filled with dread
So following new Christ pick up on cycle instead.


Symbolism in popular music

Note on the often symbolic nature of popular songs. the symbolism in the Don McLean song American Pie

Example of man-made beauty: Visual prayer

Click the photo or here for a 'visual prayer' from the gardens of the Getty Centre in Los Angeles.

Prayers with video material selected by primary school children.
Examples of visual prayers selected by primary school pupils.

Stand by Me -- sung by homeless people
The song Stand by me sung cooperatively by a range of homeless people across a number of countries. Click the photograph or here for the song
Stand by me.

Prayer that some primary school students prepared on "friendship" Tarra and Bella

Animal best friends (wmv file)

The loss of this friend (wmv file)

The stay connected video as put on TV by

PART 2: Putting the experience of prayer and a curriculum for prayer (educating about prayer) into perspective

Click here for a link to the start of Section 7 Part 2: (in a separate file) Perspective on prayer and educating in prayer

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