An interview with Jonathan Kear on Pop Up Prayer Spaces in Primary Schools in Gloucester.

12th January 2023

Last month we caught up with Jonathan Kear from The Bizz in Gloucester. Jonathan is also one of our networkers, so if you are near the area and interested in starting with prayer spaces in schools you will likely cross paths! He is passionate in evangelising, teaching and discipling children and young people.

We asked him some of the questions we get asked most, how to start and where to start!

How long have you run prayer spaces in schools?

My first Prayer Space was on Monday, 25 April 2016 and was based on the Lord’s prayer. I convinced a friend who at the time was the Head of a local school. I can’t believe how nervous I was in delivering it, and cheeky in asking! Actually, 6 ½ yrs later, in a good way, I still am nervous before delivering a prayer space to a new school.

How often do you run prayer spaces in schools and which age group do you bring them to?

I am still waiting for the opportunity to deliver a prayer space into a secondary school, until then, I am having too much fun going into primary schools. The directness of a reception child and the thought process of a year 6 brings great diversity to the day. I have been blessed this past term to be doing four spaces at four different schools. 

What motivates you to keep doing them?

The reaction of the children seeing a classroom or hall ‘transformed’ is always awesome, but after each class goes through, I finish with a conclusion, where they talk to each other about what they discovered and that makes it all worth while.

Why do you think prayer spaces in schools is needed or important/valuable?

The reaction from the teaching staff says it all. To support the staff and school through prayer spaces is totally unique. The appreciation from the school for being and journeying with the school, is immense. The preparation in getting a prayer space right is really important and to get knowledge from the school in what to deliver goes a long way. 

A question we often get asked is, how do you get team? So, how do you go about it?

To build a team to support a prayer space is vital. the difference I see in doing one on my own and when I have help is huge. journeying with pupils as they do the stations can help them get the most of their time in the prayer space. My first port of call is all the local churches around the school, the open the book team that might be going in and other local Christians I know that I can count on to be a solid helper.

Do you have a ‘favourite’ prayer activity, one you always bring out? And if so, why is that?

My style of delivering prayer spaces is based more on a theme, so I create different activities around the theme. But my favourite station that I enjoy seeing the reaction of the children is the large mirror that they are allowed to write on. I use it in a health and well-being prayer space. Getting them to write a positive message to encourage each other and then to look at themselves in the mirror and see the messages about themselves is very powerful. observing primary children not seeing themselves in a positive light is so sad and the effort that they have to make to read the messages and understand it is for them is so important. To see the penny drop and them walk away from the station taller is so satisfying.

Do you have a most memorable story of a pupil (or teacher) of their experience in a prayer space in school that you would be happy to share with us?

The funniest reaction I have ever got is from my very first prayer space, We were looking at the Lord’s prayer line by line. ‘Give us our daily bread’ . I posed four questions, what do we need, what would we like, what do we want and what do we have but don’t need. In asking for an example for each, one girl put her hand up and said, “one thing I have that I don’t need, is a little brother”… you can’t come back from that!

If someone is thinking about getting started in their area but not sure where to begin, what or where would you suggest they start?

The best thing I was able to do before ‘launching’ on my own was to shadow others doing prayer spaces, seeing first hand how one might work was the best.

Attached is a picture of my favourite station (on the health and well-being Prayer Space) called Mirror, mirror on the wall. Write a positive message to your friends. Take the time to look at yourself as you read the messages.