How do you teach a twelve-year old to pray?

Have you ever wanted to teach middle school?  I thought not.  It’s no easy task to get sixth graders to sit still, must less get knowledge in their heads.  You can imagine my astonishment when I saw a room full of twelve-year olds, silent and still.  My Chicago Jesuit Academy colleague Paul Mitchell found a brilliant way to teach tweens how to pray.

Click on the image to get a better look at the Grade School Examen.

He lays out the Ignatian Examen in the simple and direct language of middle school.  Paul’s genius is that his method works as well for this easily distracted 27 year old as it does for his students.  You can click on the image of Paul’s board to get a better look at his “masterpiece.”

For St. Ignatius, there’s hardly a better way to pray. The Examen helps us notice patterns of God’s presence in our daily lives.  Seeing God more clearly, we can better follow where God leads.  St. Ignatius recommended praying the Examen regularly—twice a day, at lunch and at bedtime.  But, short and sweet, it can fit into any quick bit of downtime—on the train platform, on a coffee break, or even between middle-school classes.

How do you teach a twelve-year old to pray?

Apparently the same way you teach a twenty-seven-year old.

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