Posted by Phil on 25.06.2012
"Praying always starts ‘Dear God’ and ends ‘Amen’ doesn’t it? And people always close their eyes and put their hands together don’t they? And people only pray in churches or schools...?
Prayer Spaces give children the opportunity to explore prayer beyond the confines of formal large group prayer; to discover that prayer is just talking to God about anything and everything, and doing it anywhere! The Prayer Space gave the children the opportunity to explore prayer through a variety of methods, on many different subjects.
Watching orange vitamin C tablets dissolve in water and turning it orange is fun – it also encouraged children to think about forgiving people, of letting go of the bad feelings inside we get when we don’t forgive those who have hurt or upset us.
Crawling inside a cardboard box in a dry room, surrounded by nice ‘clean’ rubbish is hardly the experience street children have every night. But the box that looked attractive to play in at the start of the week looked less inviting after a week of graffiti prayers written on it made it look quite dilapidated. Depending on age and understanding children wrote about street children needing love, families, food, money, toys, pets and Xboxes!
Playdough was popular with children of all ages as they thought about their favourite part of God’s creation. Great conversations can be had with a child who is standing moulding and pushing and kneading a piece of playdough.
A six foot high bubble tube adds great atmosphere to a room already decorated with fairy lights, lots of different coloured hanging material and fluffy cushions with soft music playing. Lying still around the bubble tube the children were encouraged to think about God and what they’d like to say to him – a wall full of post it notes suggested they had a lot on their minds! Comments on thankfulness, fears about impending events, worries for friends and family, all was written to God.
Writing a letter to God (or as if to the person involved) to say sorry for something had the children thinking quite seriously. They put the letter in an envelope and posted it in a box. The letters were never to be opened, only shredded. ‘You promise?’ said the children. ‘yes’ we replied. Who knows what was written down; many took it very seriously.
Finally, a chance to stand in front of a full length mirror by yourself. To consider if you liked what you saw. To be encouraged that God loved what he saw! And to add a fingerprint to the surrounding frame to remind you of your uniqueness in the world.
Children, teachers and those who came to help received so much from God during this week. Back in the classroom one little girl wrote a letter to God and asked him to be her friend and to write back. We encouraged her teachers to show her a bible – he has already written to her! She then drew a picture of a room with an almost invisible figure in it – someone who is everywhere but can’t quite be seen. She is beginning to understand something of the wonder of God!"
Val Challis the Children’s minister at Christ Church in Abingdon.