CHOOSING THE PRAYER ACTIVITIES
Getting the right mix of prayer activities.
There are lots of ways to choose and organise the prayer activities in your prayer space. You could choose prayer activities to fit with a particular season or event (e.g. Advent, a sporting event, exams). You could choose a set of prayer activities that follow a particular journey or Biblical story (e.g. the Lord's Prayer, the Good Samaritan). Or you could choose prayer activities that blend around particular themes or even school values or school topics (e.g. self-image, thankfulness). What’s important is that you choose your prayer activities carefully.
If you do choose your prayer activities carefully, and host the prayer space well, we’re confident that students and staff will have a good experience, and will probably want more. You should find everything you need to know about prayer activities in the RESOURCES/HOW TO USE pages, but we’ve summarised and emphasised the main points here.
CHOOSING THE PRAYER ACTIVITIES
If you’re planning towards your first prayer space, we would recommend that you start out by selecting from our Top Ten prayer activities. These are tried-and-tested prayer activities that have worked well in lots of different schools. Aim to have a balance of activities that are directed;
- Upwards, towards God, e.g. Big Questions, Prayer Wall
- Outwards, towards the world around us, e.g. Pray The News, Stop The Traffik
- Inwards, reflective, towards the self, e.g. Fizzy Forgiveness
You may also want to ensure there are a mix of learning styles represented: writing, listening, looking, doing.
We store all the prayer activity resources that people have sent in after they’ve tried-and-tested them in the PRAYER ACTIVITIES library.
CREATING NEW PRAYER ACTIVITIES
Unfortunately, some prayer activities don’t work. We’ve discovered that the best prayer activities are:
- Simple. They can be described in two words and explained in two sentences.
- Relevant. They start with the student’s life and experiences, rather than a religious idea.
- Interactive. They have something to do, as well as something to think about.
- Inclusive. They welcome everyone, those of faith and no faith, those with different learning abilities and cultural backgrounds... everyone, equally.
- Educational. They teach skills and ideas that can be taken away.
- Personal and corporate. They provide alone-experiences and together-experiences.
- Rooted. They are rooted into the life and sayings of Jesus, even if that isn’t obvious.
If you create some new prayer activities, or adapt some of the ones from our Library, we would recommend that you apply these guidelines. For a fuller explanation of these guidelines, visit the HOW TO USE webpage.
And if you do create some new prayer activities, once you’ve tried-and-tested them, please share them with us, so that we can share them with others. If you’re logged into the website, you can send your new prayer activities by filling in the boxes on the UPLOAD RESOURCES page. It’s really easy.
JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE
We would encourage every prayer space to feature at least one prayer activity that focuses on an issue of injustice, either something local or something global.
As students engage in injustice-themed prayer activities, and as they express their questions and their hopes for things to change, some begin to consider ways that they might become part of the answer to their own prayers. Which is an answer to our prayers.
If you’re hosting your first prayer space, ask the schools if they have an adopted charity or project. Maybe you could find or create a prayer activity that connects with it?
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Borrow if you can. Beg if you need to. Buy if you must. At least to get started.
If you buy new gazebos and touch-screen displays and expensive lighting and a 7-foot bubble tube then, yes, your prayer space will cost a few hundred pounds... but you don’t have to buy these items, and your prayer space doesn’t have to cost much at all.
There will probably be things that you’ll want to buy - fairy lights, pens and pads, post-it notes, lining paper, sheets to hang-up, maybe a gazebo, etc. (Check the downloadable prayer activity PDFs for the lists of materials that you’ll need) - but you should be able to gather all this for about £100. Or less, if you can borrow the gazebo(s), the fairy lights, etc.
You could ask local churches or local Christian organisations to donate some money. You may find some schools can provide you with consumable items, or may even have a small budget, but aim to see if the local churches can help first as a way of serving the school. Bear in mind that some of the resources you buy for one prayer space can be used again.
Some churches, Diocese and schools-work projects have already collected a stock of prayer space resources that they will loan out to those hosting new prayer spaces in the area. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to put you in touch with anyone near you who might be able to loan you some prayer space resources.
CREATING A FLOOR PLAN
Using the floor plan that you drew when you first visited the school, try to fit your prayer activities into the space you have available. Decide what the maximum capacity of your prayer space will be. This will depend on the number of activities, how much space there is to circulate and how many team members you need. A satisfactory maximum is often just less than the total number of people who could be doing prayer activities at the same time. This avoids having too many people standing around waiting. If you’re hosting lessons you may decide that it’s safer and will work better to split the class in two and have them swap half way through the lesson.
Here are some other things to consider as you fit the prayer activities together:
- Some prayer activities can be clustered together into 'zones' (e.g. a 'World zone' might have a World Wall, a Stop The Traffik activity, etc.)
- Some prayer activities work well in sequence, so you may want to locate these next to each other (e.g. Be Sorry, Be Forgiven, etc.)
- The prayer activities that invite students to sit down and listen to an mp3 narration will be best located in corners, or away from potentially noisier, discussion-based activities
- Some prayer activities invite students to reflect on their self-image or their relationships or other things that may be difficult in their lives - make sure that these activities are located in ‘safe’ areas, where students aren’t going to be interrupted or embarrassed.
- Where a prayer activity requires students to take turns, make sure there is space to queue.
- If you’re using any prayer activities that require a gazebo, think carefully about it’s size (and height!), and about where students will enter/exit.
Try setting up your prayer activities in a church hall a couple of weeks before the prayer space is due to start, just for practice. This will be a good opportunity for your team to see what the prayer activities look like, and it will give you the opportunity to rearrange them if they don’t seem to fit together as well as you’d imagined.