Are you and your congregation interested in providing more intergenerational ministry, but are not yet ready to commit to any ongoing programs? If so, then testing the ground with a Prayer Station experience might be a way ahead for you.
A Prayer Station is a collection of several Prayer Points arranged around a room or some other gathering place. Prayer Points are locations within a Station containing materials and instructions prepared for individuals or groups to explore and experience prayer practices, both ancient and contemporary, which lead to an encounter with God’s presence. Because Prayer Stations are hands-on and interactive, they are a great way for the generations to come together, to “take off the shoes” of their everyday lives, and to participate with each other in holy time and space.
A Prayer Station can be set up for an hour, a week, or a whole month of Sundays! Consider introducing the concept as part of an upcoming liturgical season like Advent. Other introductory options might include offering a Prayer Station experience as part of a congregational retreat or worship education event. Think of times when adults, youth, and children may already be near each other and set up a Prayer Station that brings them together as one in body and spirit.
Prayer Station content works best when the Points are connected by a unifying theme or scriptural text. Usually there are about five to seven Points in a Station. Each offers different materials to explore and different approaches to prayer based on that theme or text.
As an example, “Psalms of David” is a Station theme that works well with intergenerational groups. The life of David—shepherd boy, giant slayer, warrior, poet and king —offers numerous connection points for people of all ages and at varying places on their spiritual journeys. For the Station outlined below, each Point invites adults, youth and children to sit side-by-side and reflect on a different psalm, then offer a creative prayerful response to God using such objects as mirrors, maps, sand gardens, water, rocks, and paints.
- Psalm 51: Create in Me a Clean Heart
- Psalm 139: Search Me and Know Me
- Psalm 23: Walk With Me
- Psalm 42: Thirsting for God
- Psalm 18: God the Rock
- Psalm 70: Rejoice and Be Glad
Welcoming information and clear instructions are key to a positive Prayer Station experience. Consider putting up signs that direct participants to the Station. Welcome them personally and with written and visual instructions once they arrive. Keep written words simple so that even young readers can follow. The clearer the instructions, the more self-directive and reflective the Station will be. At each individual Point post reminders of the theme and reinforce instructions for using the materials as an aid to prayer.
Keeping all ages quiet and focused as they move through the Station begins with mood lighting and a contemplative soundscape of music without words. Be aware of potential high traffic areas, noise levels, and other distractions in the area where you plan to set up the Station. Finally, be sure to create enough physical space between Points, so that there is room for the Spirit to flow and the participants to feel unhindered in prayer.
Grace Yeuell is the Religious Education Program Director for Army Installation Management Command- Europe Directorate. She ensures that highly mobile soldiers and military families of all religious groups receive the religious education support they need to continue growing in faith while on active duty. A highlight of her work is creating educational opportunities that help soldiers re-integrate into family and religious community life after long deployments.