What happens to prayers once the space is over?
One of the things I look forward to at the end of a prayer space in a school is reading through some of the student’s prayers. They inspire me and challenge me. Sometimes they make me laugh. Often they make me cry.
Whenever we run training workshops, someone will ask what they should do with all the student’s Post-it notes and torn-up cardboard prayers, so here are a few suggestions;
1. It’s always good to offer feedback to the school leadership team after a prayer space.
We would always recommend writing a prayer space report, which can include a summary of what happened, the numbers of students, stories and reflections, photos of some of the activities, and (most important) observations on the key themes or questions that occurred in the student’s prayers and reflections (this will require a bit of analysis). It’s good to identify themes and key questions from the student’s prayers (and even to include a few individual ones that you feel are representative of others) because the prayer space may have revealed needs that the school leadership team will want to address through assemblies, workshops, class-time, mentoring, further prayer spaces, e.g. stress, bullying, family break-ups, grief, loneliness, etc.
2. Sometimes the school leadership team want to ‘record’ the prayer space in some way.
Some schools create a wall-display of some of the prayer space activities, photos, prayers. (Obviously, they would need to be sensitive which prayers are displayed.) Some schools create a scrapbook of the prayer activities, photos, feedback, prayers. Both of these can be good ‘evidence’ for the next Ofsted/SIAMS visit.
Whatever you decide to do with your post-prayer space stuff, do it prayerfully.
3. It’s good to feedback to the churches who have supported the prayer space with time or money or resources or people or prayer.
We’ve heard from teams who have taken a bag of the student’s prayers along to their church services/meetings after the prayer space has finished. They tipped the prayers onto the floor or onto a table, and then invited church members to come and pick a couple of them and carry them to a bin at the back of the hall, and pray for the students who wrote those prayers as they do so. This can be a very effective way to inspire the wider church with what’s happened (and you’ll probably also have a few more volunteers for the next prayer space!).
4. It’s good to keep a few representative prayer or reflections (I have a small bag of them), to display whenever you find yourself talking with others about what happened during your prayer space. Photos, stories and actual prayers and reflections are inspiring and sometimes deeply moving. Again, it’s important to be sensitive about which ones you retain and where you use them.
5. And finally, in terms of disposing of the Post-it/cardboard prayers, it’s really up to you. Maybe you could ask the students themselves, or the school? Lots of teams have a little bonfire back at the church, maybe as part of a short prayer-time for the school and it’s students, maybe as part of a team reflection and story-telling time. I think that this is a really good and fitting end… the “prayers of the saints are like sweet smelling incense” (The Book of Revelation 5v8).
Whatever you decide to do with your post-prayer space stuff, do it prayerfully. Maybe you could pray over it with your team at the end of the week as a final act of closure.
We’d love to hear if you’ve got any others suggestions for what to do with student’s Post-it notes and torn-up cardboard prayers.