Study Materials for Religious Education


Section 07: Part 2:
Perspective on teaching pupils about prayer across the religion curriculum


The content material for Section 7 Part 2 tries to identify key issues related to both the practice of prayer and educating children about prayer -- across the K-12 religion curriculum. It complements what is done in liturgy and prayer in other units -- here the emphasis is on getting a 'panoramic' perspective on how to plan and coordinate the teaching of prayer across the curriculum.

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.

Audio mp3 file lecture of this section 7.2

The audio file lecture of 26 minutes presents the content for this section (Note: Should be 7 and not 4 from earlier classwork). This is 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 text that will easily be identified. 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.

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. Part 2

This material tries to put the experience of prayer and a curriculum for prayer (educating about prayer) into perspective

It attempts to Identify what needs to be covered both in the practice of prayer and in educating children and adolescents in prayer. It will complement work done on prayer and liturgy in Theology units.

This part is primarily concerned with developing perspective on what needs to be taken into account in both the experience of prayer and in educating in relation to prayer.

The written text for this section (Study the text in conjunction with the audio lecture of 26 minutes duration)

Perspective on prayer in the classroom and on educating students in prayer
Table signposting the range of principles and issues pertinent to the teaching and curriculum planning for prayer 
Additional notes on key issues in the coordination of prayer across the curriculum.
Assessment task for Section 7 - both parts 1 and 2

Section 7 PART 2: Putting the experience of prayer and a curriculum for prayer (educating about prayer) into perspective

Perspective on prayer in the classroom and on educating students in prayer.

There are two principal elements of interest here firstly students actually praying in the classroom. This is appropriate because the school is in some sense a community of shared faith.  Even if many of the students are only nominally Catholic, and even if there are a significant proportion of students who are not Catholic, the participation in a Catholic school by parents and students accepts a willingness to participate in the religious life of the school.  Hence the celebration of Eucharist and classroom prayer as well as prayer on other occasions like assemblies are justified by the faith community aspect of the school, even though the school is not a complete community of faith as you have in a local faith community where participation is optional and is based on shared religious beliefs, commitments and practices.

The second aspect to be considered here is educating young people in prayer.  This means learning about the prayers and prayer traditions in the Catholic Church.  It also includes some understanding of the nature, purpose and psychological functions of prayer.  Across the whole school curriculum it would also need to give attention to learning about prayer and or prayer practices in other religious traditions, and even that there might be a secular equivalent of prayer for non-believers.  This section is not intended to cover all of these aspects in great detail.  What it will hope to do is signpost major issues.  Part 4.1 gave specific attention to just some issues through the examples of prayer.

The table below gives a preliminary listing of what might be a range of key questions and issues about both praying and education in prayer across the whole school curriculum.

This listing is not intended to differentiate what actually needs to be done a different year levels, but just to signpost what would need attention at the somewhere across the whole K 12 curriculum.  Some matters would require attention at every year level while others might be limited to particular parts of the curriculum.


The EXPERIENTIAL dimension

The EDUCATIONAL dimension knowledge and understanding of prayer



First hand experience of and participation in Catholic liturgy the Eucharist (related initially to sacramental initiation in a parish, if the children belong to a church going family).  Learning some liturgical skills.

Follow up knowledge and understanding of the Eucharistic liturgy


Firsthand experience of sacramental reconciliation (may be related to sacramental initiation within a parish, for children of families that are churchgoing)

Knowledge and understanding of the sacrament of reconciliation



Practice of Catholic prayer traditions.  Learning skills in the construction and development of prayer and prayer activities say one group basis for class use.

Knowledge and understanding and practice of number of traditional Catholic Christian prayers (for example Our Father, Glory be to the Father, Hail Mary, as well as knowledge and experience of other prayer is like rosary, and examples of other traditional prayers

This would include prayers and hymns from the new Testament, early Christian church mediaeval church contemporary church.


Learning to seeing and Experience of Catholic Christian hymns.  Hearing different types of Christian religious music from different periods of history.

Knowledge understanding of Christian Catholic hymns.  And other religious music

As well as a study of the evolution of him this with their different emphases, attention could be given to different sorts of religious music classical, Gregorian chant, contemporary, Christian rock music, Christian folk music.



Analysis and interpretation of the meaning of prayers, and of their religious and psychological functions.

The psychology of prayer.  Some understanding of how prayer can enhance the well-being of people.  Making them feel calmer.  Giving them hope.  Reinforcing a sense of trust in God.  Asking for help.

Refer back to some of the points made in section 4.1


The practice of meditation. Can be a follow-up to classroom study of meditation.

Study of the nature and psychological function of meditation. Christian meditation.  Meditation and other religious traditions.  Secular meditation such as transcendental meditation (TM).  The way meditation can promote self knowledge and calmness.

Note the complementarity of both the experience and an attempt to gain some psychological insight into the function of meditation for individuals and groups.


Making use of some of these prayers.

Some acquaintance with examples of prayer from other Christian and non-Christian religious traditions.  For example, prayers from the Hebrew Bible and Jewish religion, the Qu' ran, Indian Hindu scriptures etc.




Secular prayers.  People wishing others well and hoping things will be better.  Expressions of concern in poetry, in protest songs and calls for liberation and in the raising of questions about justice.

Refer back to the examples of contemporary secular prayer in the songs in section 4.1 and in the examples of prayer related to cultural post-modernity.


A combination of both experience and study required here.

Learning how to construct prayer sessions that might be put on for the class. These might be done individually or in groups.

Children need to develop some familiarity with activities such as selection of prayers, selection of readings selections of hymns and music etc.



Some additional notes on key issues to keep in mind in the coordination of prayer across the curriculum

Teaching skills in prayer and liturgy:  Symbolism

Primary school is the ideal time for getting children to learn of by heart some of the principal prayers of the religious tradition.  It is time for them to learn about the details or mechanics in the parts of the mass.  Also this would be the development of skills in knowing, identifying and interpreting common religious symbols it is like the study of traditions to develop symbolic literacy as a part of religious literacy.

To help develop prayer and liturgical skills.  Some primary school educators have organised for their students to develop weekly Paraliturgies presented by individual groups.  Paraliturgies may only go for five or six minutes.  Students, usually in pairs, constructed short prayer services that included traditional prayers, poems, their own written prayers, music, hymns, visuals etc.  The weekly regularity of the activity not only gives the students an opportunity to feel proud about what they have presented, but it helps develop a sense of prayer and a sense of how to organise materials for a prayer experience.  Refer back to the example visual prayers presented by primary school pupils in section 4.1.

Secular prayer??

Research has shown that even people who regard themselves as non-believers a higher proportion actually pay.  So even people who do not believe in a God will either pray or engage in some prayer-like activity.  For them, prayer may be an expression of hope in humanity, a hope that things will go well for them.  When people save someone who is sick our thoughts are with you it is like expressing concern and care for others and a hope that they will be able to have better health or better fortune in finding a more meaningful life.

The Catholic Catechism on Prayer

Look at what the Catholic catechism says about prayer.  It identifies a number of aspects and issues. Click for a section of the Catholic catechism on Christian Prayer.

Some recent student resources on Prayer

Ryan, M. (2004). Heartlines: Prayer resources for a contemporary spirituality . Brisbane: Lumino Press.

Ryan, M. (2008). Learning links to prayer: teacher resources for the religion classroom . Brisbane: Lumino Press.

Optional reading material: Resources for teaching prayer that may be of interest

An example of curriculum materials used in senior secondary school for teaching about prayer and its psychological functions.  It includes handout material given to students to examine as well as a commentary on how the work on prayer was approached. This example has some useful ideas about teaching prayer -- especially for senior school students.

Optional further reading resource

Click the icon to look at chapter 12 from Missionaries to a teenage culture: Religious Education in a time of rapid change which has ideas on School worship, liturgy, prayer and paraliturgies.

Even though an older text, this offers some overall perspective on prayer/liturgy and teaching about these areas in religious education.

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