Posted by Phil on 09.07.2012
Ben Poch leads teams working in schools across the London Borough of Havering on behalf of Graceworks and Scripture Union. As a result of a Prayer Space in Coopers School in 2009, he became their chaplain. Ben decided to shape the latest Prayer Space at Coopers around an 'Olympic' theme. Here's a break-down of the various prayer activities and some feedback from the students.
Olympic Prayer Wall – the students were invited to think about how big the Olympic Games will be and to ask God for what they hoped the Olympics would achieve.
Olympic Torch – “If we are all that we should be we can set the world on fire”, St Catherine of Siena. This quote was the inspiration. The activity focused on the idea that we have all being given gifts that can make a difference in the world. The students were invited to consider their 'gifts' and to write them on red, yellow and orange tissue paper and then add them into an 'Olympic torch'.
Hurdles – the students were invited to think about the obstacles and hurdles that they face, and then to ask God to help them overcome them by writing prayers on pieces of torn cardboard. Here are some of their responses;
“Life is a struggle. I cant feel/find God when I need him. I am worried I will be left alone”
“Dad’s illness. PLEASE HELP!!!”
“Getting over rejection”
“My past and inability to fit in”
“I am afraid of letting my parents down” – I saw this was from a year 8 student who is one of the brightest in his year.
Thank You – the students were invited to think about things they are grateful for and write them onto an 'Olympic medal' template, to link 'thankfulness' with 'success'.
Flag Prayers – the students were invited to draw and colour flags of nations and then to write prayers for that country on the back. The students were reminded that 204 countries will be represented at the Olympmic Games. Some were amazed at this!
Stop The Traffik – students were intriduced to the work of Stop The Traffik and to people trafficking in today’s world. The students were encouraged to write prayers on strips of paper and to then add them to prayer chains.
Life’s Jigsaw – we set up a small tent full of cushions and a difficult jigsaw. The students were invited to reflect in the puzzle and the things in their lives which are 'puzzling'. Does God have a plan for our lives? Is what we’re experiencing a small piece in a bigger picture?
Sorry – the students were invited to write the things they wanted to say sorry for on Magnadoodles, and then rub them clean.
The Cross – we had a cross in the room with holes in the wood. The students were invited to roll up anonymous paper prayers that they'd written to God and post them in the holes. Some examples of the prayers shared are;
“Dear God, I’m sorry for second guessing you. I will never forget your doings, ever again in my life, I love you and everything you’re doing for my family.”
“Dearest God, I only want to ask you one question – do you love me?”
“Dear God, please help me get over the death of my parents it has been 10 years since they died in 9/11 and I want to get over them please. In Jesus name I pray, amen.”
Feedback – we invited the students for their feedback on the Prayer Space;
“Was fun, found myself admitting to much more than I thought I would, better than last time because I felt more confident expressing myself to God.”
“I like it – it is a fantastic idea. Thank you for enabling me and giving me ideas of how to become more faithful and it helps me get things off my chest without being judged.”
“I feel that the activities have helped me when I felt bad and today I told God what it was. I now feel closer to God for doing all the activities.”
“I really enjoyed today, I found it really relaxing and I didn’t feel pressured into doing anything I didn’t want to.”
“I liked this room because it was religious in a FUN way, and this probably got to us more than an old fashioned vicar. It’s also better than our R.E. lesson cheers.”
“I think it’s good because I have never expressed myself like this has made me. I feel passionate for who I am.”
“I think it’s really good and lets out your emotions.”
“I don’t believe in God but this really opened my mind.”
Ben Poch works for Scripture Union and Graceworks, and co-ordinates Prayer Spaces in schools across the London Borough of Havering. He is a chaplain at Coopers School