Prayer spaces in schools is a national initiative coming out of 24/7 Prayer, establishing and supporting the set-up of prayer rooms in schools. Creative areas are usually established for a couple of days or a week at a time.
The purpose is to “enable children and young people to explore faith and spirituality from a broadly Christian perspective in a safe, creative and interactive way. A range of flexible resources can be adapted to work for participants aged 5 to 18 bringing an experiential dimension to a variety of subject areas and to pastoral aspects of school life.” (Prayer spaces in schools website).
These spaces offer chance for reflection and support many parts of the curriculum such as RE and SEAL. Many active and creative ways of engaging are offered to give an interactive session.
Expressions1vision have experience in running such events and can host one in your school. This could be accompanied by creative teaching on Christian topics such as prayer. Our team can either be fully responsible for the prayer space or we can collaborate with another team to do this- such as other children’s workers or churches who have ongoing relationship with the school.
Previous spaces: (see fuller details below)
Beechwood Park School: 1st-5th June 2014
Aycliffe Drive Primary School: Outdoor prayer space on 6th-8th July 2014
‘Are you real? Show me!’ Questioning God at Beechwood Park School
Between 1st and 5th June a prayer space was set-up In Beechwood park school, Hertfordshire. This coincided with exam week for some of the pupils. Children explored the area during RE lessons as well as visiting at break and lunch times.
The main areas of the space were:
1) Post-it board: a place for the young people to write any prayers, especially those about other people and the world around them.
2) Identity mirror: the children entered into the mirror ‘booth’ to reflect on how they see themselves and how God sees them. Affirming words were printed to encourage the young people to feel valued and significant.
3) Prayer objects: a table contained different objects that represented situations around the world to pray for. For example, a few pennies was a reminder for those who are poor whilst a cardboard box stood for those individuals who are living on the streets
4) Fingerprints: the children reflected on their personal uniqueness by placing their name and fingerprint on the sheet
5) Big questions- writing their questions to God on cardboard pieces
6) Forgiveness: using magnadoodles, the young people reflected on forgiveness both for themselves and others and prayed as they wiped the boards clear.
7) Be still: with bean bags, Bibles and some words for reflections the pupils could rest or take time to consider different things.
The space had a really positive response from pupils and teachers. Several young people exclaimed ‘I didn’t think it would be as cool as this’ as gained new insight into what engaging with God could look like. The fingerprints, questions, mirror and post-its were particularly popular. A common question was ‘are you real?’ with pupils praying that God will show them if He is. Alongside the excitement bubbling in the prayer room were some very heartfelt prayers appearing around the space. Ranging from prayers for sick family members to pain about situations of bullying the pupils found a place to express some of their worries and struggles. It was particularly great that this event could occur during exams, providing some space amongst the pressure of study. It was such a wonderful first prayer space and we look forward to seeing how this continues to develop in the school!
Jenny Howells works for Expressions 1Vision: a creative arts company using the arts within the Christian faith through school clubs, workshops, prayer spaces and other activities. The space was set up in collaboration with James Barringer, head of RE at Beechwood park school.
Aycliffe Drive woodland prayer space
Pupils at Aycliffe Drive primary school in Hemel Hempstead attended a prayer space across two lunch times at the beginning of July. We had the privilege of setting up the space in their beautiful forest schools woodland area. This was the first prayer space in the school and children were asked to sign up to attend during their playtime, with about 30 children coming along. It was a wonderful time and their enthusiasm was great to see. We mainly explored topics of identity, relationships, hopes and dreams through many different activities.
The worry corner involved the children trying on a heavy backpack and thinking about anything that was weighing them down. They then wrote or drew this thing and attached it to the tail of a kite, praying and imagining that worry flying away. Here they expressed fears and anxieties about illness, death, changing classes at school etc. Another favourite activity was the paddling pool of hopes and dreams, where the desires ranged from situations in their families to games console requests!
Alongside the activities it was great to have time to connect with the children. Many of them have attended the weekly Christian after- school club at some point. It was a great chance to catch up with current and past members as well as meeting some new faces.
The children who came were keen to find out when the next one would happen and one even exclaimed ‘This was my favourite thing’ before deciding to make it her second favourite after the birth of her baby sister!. We felt that was quite a positive response! It was particularly noted how much the children welcomed the chance to pause, think and pray with some of them expressing that they don’t normally get chance for this. The great news is that there are already dreams for a future prayer space that all pupils in the school would access.
This prayer space was run by Jenny Howells of Expressions 1Vision, a local creative arts company doing prayer spaces, events, workshops and regular Christian clubs.
Link to Prayer Spaces in Schools national network website (an initiative of 24/7 Prayer. This website offers resources and news on prayer spaces happening around the country.