10th November 2022
My journey with prayer spaces actually began way back in 2016. I attended a workshop with my then manager and instantly fell in love with the concept. My manager agreed and as school workers for the Methodist church we tried our best to introduce a prayer space to the primary schools we worked into. We managed semi successfully, mostly doing prayer spaces around Year 6 transition but we still felt God was calling us to do more. Time went on and my manager moved on to train to be a minister and I assumed the role she left empty – Schools work co-ordinator for the Doncaster Methodist Circuit.
Through the pandemic lots of things took a back seat, this unfortunately included prayer spaces. It wasn’t until march 2022 that I was able to pick them back up again. I was in a school delivering an assembly and got chatting with one of the teachers, catching up on all the school news and how the children were feeling. The conflict in Ukraine had just started and there was a lot of anxiety amongst the Upper Key Stage 2 classes. I mentioned that prayer spaces in schools had released some resources especially around the conflict and explained a bit about what prayer spaces is. The teacher was very enthusiastic about it and straight away opened the school diary to find an afternoon where I could come into school and deliver prayer spaces. The afternoon went beautifully, one of my favourite responses from the children was “I still don’t know what will happen but I feel calmer about that”
From the Ukraine Prayer space another teacher at the school approached me and mentioned many of the students in her class were struggling with self esteem and self image, could I do a prayer space around that? Of course I agreed and this time we had 3 afternoon sessions dedicated to how we feel about ourselves- both inside and outside.
After the Easter holidays, I was again speaking with the teacher who had first set up the Ukraine prayer space with me and she noted what a change she had seen in the children after the prayer spaces and asked if the school could have them more often, I was mostly joking when I suggested perhaps we could make it a lunchtime club. The school loved the idea and now every Monday lunchtime I’m there in what used to the spare classroom and has now become known as “prayer space room” with 4-6 different prayer activities around a different theme each week.
In the 5 months our lunchtime prayer space has existed we have had themes based on community, racial injustice, grief, worry, hopes and dreams, the rugby world cup, identity, fear and many more. It is a blessing to be able to provide children with the space to acknowledge “Big emotions” and help them find the tools to deal with them, I thank God every Monday lunchtime for that conversation that happened on a random afternoon in March!