Posted by Phil on 30.07.2012
"The week of 18th June saw the second visit of Prayspace to King Edward VI Upper School (our first return-visit to a school with the Prayspace project). We have developed some new prayer activities, two of which we used for the first time during the week. One (‘Healing’, devised by our intern, Dan) focuses on healing and uses the story of Fabrice Muamba to raise the question ‘Do miracles happen?’ The second (‘Heart’) is all about praying for situations of global injustice and inequality.
The surprising thing about both of these two stations is how much conversation we have had in the room with students responding to these issues. It has made for a very different atmosphere, with great conversations about the existence of miracles, why some people get healed and others don't, campaigning for fair trade uniform, shocking global inequality statistics... to name just a few! Although unexpected, the increased amount of interaction with students was definitely one of our favourite things about the week.
Some of the best feedback came during a debrief with one of the classes on day three.
Me: How does it make you feel being in here?
Girl: Makes me feel sad - thinking about all the difficult stuff in the past.
Me: Sad in a good way or a bad way?
Girl: Oh, in a good way. It's really good to be able to think about it and get it all out because you don't normally have the chance to do that.
Along with two friends, she then stayed on after the others had left because she wanted to do the forgiveness activity. It was obvious from the comments they wrote in our book that this had been a very meaningful experience for them all.
The teacher for this class had specifically requested that they should come in because she loved Prayspace last year. She saw the room and its effect on the students last year and was so grateful and complimentary once the students had left.
One of the other afternoon classes is known as a difficult group, but they were brilliant with us and went back to class full of how Prayspace was great and had really helped them. Their teacher came down specially to say thank you and let us know that it had been a fantastic experience for her class, all of whom 'took something away from it.'
This is one of the things I am praying for more of - a lasting impact beyond the time the students spend in Prayspace. We're certainly actively encouraging them to make changes to their lives as a result of what they spend time thinking about. This is evident in the Forgiveness and Worry activities, and in the new 'Heart' prayer activity. At this activity, students are invited to make suggestions of what they will do to begin to live 'big-hearted' lives, acting against injustice, oppression and inequality.
At its heart, Prayspace was designed to help students have an encounter with God that changes them, and to discover a lasting peace that stays with them – we so deeply want the thing they take away with them to be His living presence.
Our final encouragement from the week is that, following a visit by their head of RE, we have booked our first Prayspace for a middle school. This is such an exciting development and will take place in November!
By Matt Rushby.