These can be a really powerful tool, something eye-catching and interactive that can prove a major blessing to experienced Christians and non-Christians alike. Perhaps they may:
- stimulate minds creatively to explore concepts that may never be considered normally.
- give that opportunity for quiet reflection that may otherwise never materialise.
- be a way of incorporating a spiritual element into an activity that otherwise would be entirely secular.
The great thing about them is that they really could be put anywhere; church, hall, marquee, even outside; in fact any venue and any occasion where you feel they may be welcome and potentially useful.
Prayer Station Resources:
The Methodist Church has a site with plenty of ideas here, but overall we’d simply encourage you to be creative- it’s amazing what you can come up with if you set your mind to it! Look at the following:
- The Labyrinth. You can find loads of ideas and texts here. You can also order specific resources there. If youd like to think about setting up a labyrinth, do feel free to speak to Richard, hell happily give you the benefit (or otherwise) of his experience. Even if you dont want to do the labyrinth fully, it does feature lots of separate ideas for prayer stations, and you may like to use any one of them on its own or in conjunction with others…
- Experience Easter. This is an initiative of Gloucester Diocese. The idea is that Parish Churches invite local schools in around Passiontide/Holy Week to Experience Easter. The Church sets up six stations (Servant King; Remember Me; Alone; Hopes & Dreams; Sharing our sorrows; and Resurrection). Each Church develops its own stations, and some have been amazingly adventurous. At least one member of the Church community is present at each station; they talk about their faith; and they ask some basic questions. Children are encouraged to respond in their own way. The experience is very intimate. Only one class (30 pupils max) can engage at any one time; and groups of no more than six children are present at each of five of the six stations; and they then move on to the next one, and so on; until they all meet up together at Resurrection. Churches that have run the project have found it an overwhelming experience for everyone (e.g. its the first time many elderly people have spoken to children about their faith). Its suitable for all children (including those from other faith backgrounds). Theres a website here which is well worth a look (the picture board has photos of 'stations'). Resource material is also available for Christmas, Pentecost, Harvest, and more.
Some other ideas that we have seen work…
- Burning Away. A lighted candle, some slips of paper and a metal bin is all you need. Encourage people to write down things theyre ashamed of onto a slip of paper, but then pray for Gods forgiveness about it. Then consider yourself cleansed by the love of Jesus as the fire of the Holy Spirit burns it away to nothing
- Finger Painting. Messy, but fun, and nothing a pack of wet wipes cant handle! Using fingerpaints can encourage you to look at your fingers, whose unique prints serve to demonstrate your uniqueness in Gods eyes, but you could use them to add a personal touch or even signature to a larger artwork to emphasise community. Here's one that we made earlier.
- Lighting Candles. Very simple, and of course used in churches and cathedrals all over the world. Just encourage people to light a tealight for anyone theyre concerned about. You could also leave a place to write names down with the promise they will be prayed for in forthcoming intercessions etc…
- Miniature Earth. A lovely thought-provoking presentation of what world would be like if it was reduced down to village of only 100 people. Not explicitly Christian, but certainly challenging to think around issues of poverty, injustice, and the environment. You can view it for yourself here.
- Opening Flowers. Make some flower outlines on paper (simple daisy shapes with roundish petals). Write something in the centre of the flower, and then loosely fold over the petals to hide what you have written. Then carefully place the flower in a bowl of water so it floats the petals will gradually open to reveal what was written! Of course, there are all sorts of things that you could put it in the middle, and you can make your point accordingly… Experiment first some petals work better than others!
- Play-Doh (or similar). Just a great way of considering how it feels to be a creator, by creating something yourself… An example was from Stafford's Cathy Short; Mould a lump of dough into a shape, which might represent how you are feeling at the moment, or perhaps how you would like to feel. Then pray to God asking him to help you. Enjoy the tactile experience of playing with the dough!
- Prayer Nets/Trees/Whatever… Encourage people to write short prayers, and then provide them with somewhere interesting to put them. How about a net to tuck them into, or a small tree to whose branches you can tie them onto. Or something more creative…
- Psalm Readings. This is a really creative way of encouraging people to take with them a verse of scripture. And the pun in the name will usually draw some attention! You can read more about how they may work and a first-hand account here.
And to make you smile, one that didnt!...
A few years ago Richard (Mission Team Coordinator) prepared a station where you could light a tealight to highlight an issue in your life that you wanted God to deal with, and then encouraged people to drop the lit tealights into a big tub of water, so that as the flame went out, you could visualise God taking that pain away from you. He however failed to test it beforehand, and found out only afterwards that the tealights floated, so many of them remained burning stubbornly! So please take this as encouragement to test your creative ideas thoroughly before you let them loose on the public!