Monday, October 06, 2008

    More Creative Prayer Ideas for Teens

    As Christian educators, it’s helpful for those in youth ministry to be aware that not everyone learns in the same way. The growing body of literature around the theory of multiple intelligences reminds us that different brains respond to different learning environments and experiences. Some of us are drawn toward the use our hands, some our voices, some of us our ears, some of us love silence, some of us would rather be outdoors, with a group, or even alone. This same understanding of learning could be applied to our individual experience of prayer and connectivity with God. When it comes to the efficacy of worship and prayer, one size does not fit all.

    Below you will find a collection of creative prayer ideas, each tied to one (or more) of the multiple intelligences. Each idea is fairly open-ended and can easily be adapted to your particular theme or scriptural focus. Why not consider setting up a "night of prayer" for your youth and invite them to explore the prayer experiences that speak most to their own ways of exploring the world and their spiritual life.

    Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: This intelligence involves a tendency to want to experience the world through touch and movement. Offer participants a chance to walk a labyrinth, a meditative practice that allows you to use the whole body while in prayer, perhaps focusing on their personal journey of faith. You can create simple labyrinths using just masking tape on a floor. See here or here for complete instructions. And see here for an example of how a labyrinth could become the setting for multiple prayer stations like those posted below.

    Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: This intelligence involves a comfort with expressing oneself through language, either written or spoken. Option one: Provide participants with individual chalk boards and erasers and invite them to spend time writing down the things in their life for which they are seeking forgiveness. This could be just a list of items, or could be in the form of a letter or poem. After praying to be open to God's forgiveness, participants should be invited to erase what they have written on the chalkboard as a symbol of reconciliation with God. Option two: Gather several sets of Scrabble letters and invite participants to use the tiles to create a prayer on a table top, perhaps even connecting their words with those of others.

    Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: This intelligence relates to our ability to learn through logic, patterns, sequences, and numbers. To engage this intelligence, set up a prayer station that includes a cross-shaped tangram puzzle using templates that can be found here and here. Instruct participants to take time to piece together the puzzle and then meditate on what the challenge of the cross means to them.

    Visual-Spatial Intelligence: This intelligence is often demonstrated through the creation or appreciation of visuals and art. To engage this intelligence, try this cool idea: Hang a piece of muslin and use an LCD projector to project an image onto the muslin from behind. This could be any image that ties with your worship/prayer theme: a portrait of Christ, hands, a tree, etc. Invite worshippers to use paint to recreate the lines of the image being projected on the muslin. At the end of your time together, turn off the projected image and see what you have created together.

    Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence: This intelligence is often demonstrated through the appreciation or performance of music. Option one: To create a prayer station focused on this intelligence, round up several Ipods or MP3 players and download meditative chants or other spiritual music for participants to listen to as they focus on a particular text or written meditation. A great source for combined word-and-music meditations is the website Pray-as-you-Go which offers free daily downloads perfect for a prayer station. Option two: Load each Ipod/MP3/CD player with a different type of music: classical, jazz, pop, techno, etc. Invite participants to take time to listen to each, allowing the different styles of music to focus their prayers differently. Option three: Have a video Ipod? Provide (Christian?) music videos for meditation.

    Interpersonal Intelligence: This intelligence is expressed in an ability to work with and relate to other people and in groups. For this prayer station, encourage three or four people to work together to create a
    group mandala. This prayer practice invites the group to work together to create a “sacred circle” in which each draws, paints, writes their particular prayer concerns and joys inside the circle. The challenge of the task is to see how they might each add or respond to the contributions of others to the mandala’s design or content. See template to the right for one possible way to approach this group mandala project.

    Intrapersonal Intelligence: This intelligence involves private introspection. Option one: Provide participants with a collection of photos or sacred art images and invite them to spend some time in private thought, focusing on the images that speak most to them or that help them to lift up particular prayers of need, thanks, praise, etc. Option Two: Invite participants to try the Ignatian Examen, an ancient meditative prayer form that invites one to discern the presence of God in the everydayness of life.

    Naturalist Intelligence: This intelligence involves a sensitivity to nature. Invite youth to leave the building and take a stroll outside, noting the gifts of creation all around them and offering a prayer of thanks for each. As they walk, they should look for a natural object (e.g. a leaf, a rock, a flower) that in some way symbolizes God for them. Ask each person to bring the object, if appropriate, back to the prayer room and place on an "altar" area for others to see.
    You can check out more of our ideas for prayer stations and creative worship here.


    Anonymous said...

    great post. it caused me to think lots and lots of ideas. Keep it up.

    Brian said...

    Thanks. Hope some of this can be put to good use.

    rodney said...

    Thanks for the insight and ideas. I'm always open for new ways to get teens to pray more.