Last week I spent the majority of my time in The Littlehampton Academy, helping to support the Prayer Space that was happening there.
I previously blogged about the first prayer space we ran in the school last year, and this was a very similar experience. We again used the resources from Orison, to create an interactive experience encouraging people to engage with prayer using creative, hands on activities. It was set up in the school hall and the young people were guided through four different zones exploring specific prayer-related themes in each one as part of their RE lesson.
There were some changes to the activities from last year incorporating ideas from Sanctum by CYO in Colchester. Among the four zones students were able to engage in things such as wiping away their mistakes on magnetic drawing boards, allowing their prayers for the community to float and open-out in a padding pool, listening to an mp3 player narrating stories of people who’d changed their lives and achieved remarkable things, reflecting on forgiveness, and of course writing down their hopes, dreams and prayers as part of the experience.
As before, the response from the young people was exciting, deep and profoundly challenging. We watched prayers being formed for friends, family members, people around the world, and for sad and tragic circumstances. There were hundreds of thoughtful and articulate questions formed about the nature of the world and the God who claims to have created it. For me it was a very humbling experience and an insight into the huge issues and pressure that young people are coping with on a daily basis.
The feedback from the young people at the end of each lesson was always encouraging. The space made many of them stop, think and reflect on themselves and their situations. It was a chance to do something a bit different in a unique and safe environment. At the very least it was fun and relaxing, but for some it was a significant moment where they were able to start to make sense of the situations and people around them.
Paul Sanderson, the school Chaplain has also posted a number of photos of the Prayer Space on the school website.
Again I will say, if you do any sort of schools work, I highly recommend checking out Orison and getting them to come and lead, help or advise a prayer space in your school. You should also visit the Prayer Spaces In Schools website. It is an initiative of 24-7 Prayer and they are doing very similar work across the UK with lots of resources and ideas on the site.