Tuesday, July 15, 2008


    I mentioned awhile back that one of the special evening events at our church camp this summer was "The Night of Silence" in which the youth spent time in complete silence experiencing a variety of camper-created prayer stations. I thought I'd share a few of the ideas they came up with, all of which would work at camp or youth group or many other ministry settings. These activities can be adapted as you see fit to your particular prayer traditions. Each offers a template and taps into various ways of engaging the senses in the experience of prayer. If we are to take seriously Paul's encouragement to "Pray without ceasing" then it's possible that everything we do is prayer, provided we do it with awareness of communion with God and openness to God's spirit.

    Prayer Path - Create a simple circular path out of tape on the floor or chairs and rope. Design the path to wind in on itself and reach an open center space that is equipped with pillows on the floor and written instructions for participants to sit and offer silent prayers for those people who have been important to their own prayer journey and to offer thanks to God for their guidance.

    Play-Do Prayers - Provide a variety of play-do colors and invite worshippers to create a mini-sculpture to represent a particular prayer need, joy, or concern. As participants finish, they can add their creation to those of others and contemplate and lift up all the other prayers that have been depicted.

    Water Prayers - Provide a large glass bowl and pitcher of water. Provide instructions for participants to offer a silent prayer and pour a small amount of water into the bowl. As each person prays, his or her water prayers are mixed with those of others as the bowl fills.

    Mural Prayers - Tape a large sheet of paper to a wall and provide markers and crayons. Worshippers can use this canvas to create a mural of prayers on a particular topic (such as "the world" or "peace" or "hurt") or it could be used graffiti-style, allowing for individual creativity to represent words, pictures, symbols, poetry, etc. to offer up prayers to God.

    Braided prayers - Set out colorful strips of cloth and a length of clothesline tied between to trees or posts. Invite worshippers to take three cloth strips to represent three people or things they want to pray about. Tie the ends of the three strips to the clothesline and then braid the three together, all the while meditating and praying on the selected pray concerns. Encourage participants to take note of the braided cloths left by others and to consider their prayers as well.

    Prayer Stones - Assemble a collection of smooth stones and ask participants to choose one and hold it firmly in their hands, focusing on and praying for a particular joy or concern. When ready, worshippers should take a sharpie and write a word on phrase on the stone to represent their prayer and then add it to the growing pile left by others.

    Candle Shape Prayers - Set out a number of votive candles and a lighter. Instruct a small group to work together, in silence, to form together a shape or symbol to represent a prayer need of the world. When the group senses the image is complete, have them work together to light each candle, hold hands, and pray in silence.

    Pipe Cleaner Prayers - Invite worshippers to take several pipe cleaners and form a shape or design that communicates a prayer concern. Ask them to add their creation to those of others and to spend time contemplating all the prayer concerns represented.

    Stick Sculpture Prayers - I must admit the exact focus of this one alludes me but I'm sure you could creatively adapt it. Found sticks were provided and the group worked together to form a sculpture. Perhaps each added stick represents an individual prayer and the sculpture represents our prayers connected to each other, or perhaps the entire sculpture represents a prayer.

    Of course, any of these prayer experiences could be enhanced by providing scriptures to read, sacred music, written questions to encourage thought and meditation, or icons such as images of Jesus or biblical stories in art. You can find other creative worship ideas, including more suggestions for interactive prayer stations, here.

    -- Brian


    jeremyzach said...

    why are you guys so awesome?
    seriously, can i be in your youth group?

    alaina said...

    I love it!

    Thanks for writing out a great summary for others to use!

    We did something similar at our JH retreat this spring. Our youth were given a material and told to create a prayer station. We had foil, pillows, playdough, water, a stack of nature photos (rejects from my archives), mirrors, candles, maybe something else that I am forgetting. They spent an hour or so preparing the station and then an hour circulating between them.
    The "Amen" station was a mural station.

    Youth and Parents still talk about how powerful they were. very very cool.

    Brian said...

    Thanks for the props, Jeremy!

    Alaina, I love the idea of giving them items and having them use those to brainstorm a prayer station. I'll definitely use that next time around!

    suzanne said...

    Thanks for the ideas. We used several of these stations for a modified Taize-style service that we did recently for our church (not just youth). The evening was focused on prayer, and the worship team's desire was for folks to experience prayer not talk/hear about it. It was a huge hit - and we've had requests to do another one. Thanks!