Gratitude and Growth: An End of Year Prayer Service for Nurturing Faith

Written by NCEA Staff, [email protected]

A teacher I knew once referred to tests as “Celebrations of Knowledge.” Throughout the academic year, students participate in myriad “celebrations of knowledge,” but none so important as the ones undertaken in their religion and theology classes. 

Why is this? 

There is a symbiotic relationship between knowledge and love. To know something or someone is to love that thing or person and to love a person or thing is to grow more intimately in knowledge of that person or thing. 

The Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education (ACRE), part of the NCEA Rise family of assessments, is the culmination of the knowledge gained about God throughout the year. Just as God is the vine grower and prunes the branches that do not bear fruit, the ACRE assessment aids educators in measuring the depth of knowledge their students have learned over the course of the year, while the prayer service below offers a glimpse into the depth for which students have grown in love with God and their fellow classmates.

End of Year Prayer Service

This prayer service is designed to take place within a classroom setting if the Gratitude Chain or Tree portion is going to be completed. If utilized for a large group, the petitions can be pre-written and read aloud during the petitions portion of the service. 


Gratitude Tree

  • Painter’s tape
  • Brown butcher paper or construction paper in the shape of a tree trunk and branches
  • 1-2 leaf-shaped construction paper slips for each student
    • Recommended: Brightly colored paper to visually express joy
  • Brightly colored sharpies/markers/crayons

Gratitude Chain

  • Scotch tape
  • 1-2 rectangular construction paper slips for each student
    • Recommended: Brightly colored paper to visually express joy
  • Brightly colored sharpies/markers/crayons


Good and gracious God, thank you for another year of wisdom and friendship gained, challenges overcome and unexpected blessings. As we reflect on the past year, let us hear the words of Jesus from John’s gospel:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)


Imagine yourself in a garden and think back to the beginning of the school year. Think about the challenges you overcame. Do you see God’s hand, pruning your life to help you grow? Where in your life have you borne more fruit? What blessings have you received?

Take a moment to ask God to continue to prune you to help you grow. Give thanks for a specific person, experience or lesson learned that deepened your faith or brought you closer to God.


Gratitude Chain or Gratitude Tree: Distribute strips of paper or paper leaves for students to write down something they are grateful for this year. Link them together to create a gratitude chain or build a gratitude tree.


As students link their strips of gratitude together or create a gratitude tree, ask them to pray aloud for the people, events and blessings they have written down. 

Respond with: “Lord, thank you for these blessings.”


As we move forward, may the lessons learned and the love of Christ remain with us. We ask the intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and all the Saints as we pray:

Hail Mary…