Beyond Youth: Prayer Spaces; Creating environments for exploring prayer.

Have you ever thought about - What actually is prayer? How we pray? The different ways to pray?   Well children at Bishop’s Primary school in Ashington and in William Leech school in Lynemouth did in March this year.
The Beyond Youth team and volunteers explored those very questions and actions through Prayer Spaces in the schools. 

As well as exploring overarching questions such as why and how do people pray, we created spaces to explore eight main themes.

  • Conflict
  • Feeling sorry
  • The environment
  • Facing challenges together
  • Being still
  • Letting Go
  • Big Questions
  • Our uniqueness

Prior to the prayer spaces themselves the Light Leaders from Bishop’s, along with Becca and Susan from Beyond Youth, visited the classrooms to discuss the initial questions around prayer.  Light Leaders are a small group of Year 6 students who help lead collective worships in the school.

Through their role, they led the discussions in each class as to:

  • What actually is prayer and why do we pray? 
  • How do we pray? 
  • About the different ways to pray?  

Following these discussions and armed with this knowledge, classes spent an hour each in the prayer space. The children were free to move around each one or to stay in one place, whatever they wanted.  With one Golden Rule – to respect others’ space and prayers!

The Prayer Spaces gave the children a way to explore personal reflection and prayer for themselves using a selection of engaging and creative activities. If they did not want to pray then the spaces gave them a chance to reflect, relax and just be. Each group used the space in their own way and it was wonderful to see such engagement and enjoyment.  

The children’s questions in the Big Questions area were wonderful and thought provoking.  

Young people really connected with thinking about environmental issues and praying for a better world. 

Their questions and environmental thoughts were strung on washing lines, tied to nets and hung from the ceiling to lift them to God. 

The Conflict Wall soon became covered in Doves of Peace and showed how much the children wanted a world of peace, and certainly an end to the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, which were prominent in their minds.

Every one of us is unique and have our own identity which was explored by the children in the Fingerprint Tree, stamped with each child’s fingers. 

While we are unique, we are also part of a community. Children demonstrated this beautifully by working as a team to overcome difficult things in our Challenge ‘Swamp’.  As they completed the challenge they reflected on our need for each other and asking for help from God in prayer.

Saying prayers along with the relaxation of feeling sand, watching bubbles, squeezing clay, popping bubble wrap and letting go for a short while brought such joy and fun.

You can read more about Prayer Spaces in Schools and how they run here:

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