Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

It’s the end of another school year!   Congratulations to all the students as well as educators who made it through another school year.  I enjoy my summer break and miss interacting with students. But one thing I don’t miss is tests which are a part of my life as a college English Instructor.   Over the years, I’ve developed tests that measure more than one thing at once.   

For example, one of my very first quizzes is over the course syllabus. Before I give the quiz, I go over important parts of the syllabus the very first day of class and remind students to bring a copy of the syllabus to the next class. This simple quiz measures following instructions as well as whether the student understands what the course will be about. Most students do very well in remembering to bring their syllabus and get high scores on this quiz when I give it to them the 2nd class day.   For many of them, it’s an easy 100 points.

However, as the semester progresses, the student grades change as tests and quizzes become harder.  They are no longer allowed to use notes and have to rely on their recollection of the material.  Many students study hard and continue to make good grades; others slip because they are unable or unwilling to study and adjust to the demands of college level class work.  As a teacher, it’s sometimes frustrating because I know they all have the potential to do better but for some reason some choose not to.

Over the years, I found that watching my students’ responses when I give them their first major test reminds me of how spiritual tests can also measure many things at once.  Faithfulness, grace, forgiveness, consistency, and patience are just a few that we can measure with something as simple as our prayer life.   

As we mature, our prayers should change.   For example, in the past whenever I met a man I was interested in, I’d pray, “Lord, is he the one?”and then wait for the answer…which many times would be silence.  Now I pray “Show me everything I need to see about this person…good…bad…and everything in between.”   At first, I didn’t like to pray that prayer because it seemed like every time I prayed it, all kinds of bizarre behaviors about this person would be revealed. I finally learned to appreciate the truth that was revealed with this prayer. But it’s taken me years to get to that point.

For some of us, it’s as simple as knowing that we should pray first.  For others, it’s knowing what kind of prayer to pray.  Hebrews 5:13-15 says that “…solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”  We have to grow up and accept that just because our prayer hasn’t worked like we wanted doesn’t mean that we stop praying.  

God will answer the prayer at the appointed season or let us know why it remains unanswered.     For many of us passing the test means that you don’t make the mistake of putting more faith in the prayer than in the one that you are praying to.