As someone who is passionate about church being church in the school community, I believe that prayer spaces are one of the best tools we have to do this! 

2nd March 2023

I have been running Prayer Spaces in Schools in schools for over 10 years.  As someone who is passionate about church being church in the school community, I believe that prayer spaces are one of the best tools we have to do this!  In our local village primary school we have run several outdoor prayer spaces over the last 2 years, and in January we ran our first indoor one.  I am a huge advocate of outdoor prayer spaces as they are set in God’s big reflective space, with all the wonderful natural stimulus that goes with being outdoors.  It was therefore a challenge for our team to run a prayer space indoors.  January was a cold month, and so the benefit of being warm inside was a strong pull for us.  

We were able to take over the upstairs art room which has lovely views from the windows and is light and airy.  We didn’t have lots of time to set up or pack down due to several factors, so we chose resources and activities that enabled us to set the space up in an hour – 7.30am until 8.30am.  This left us with 30 mins to grab a drink and pray, before our first group arrived.  We chose to work with smaller groups of 10 children at a time due to the size of the space and the need to create a calm, reflective vibe.  We had a team of 4 or 5 adults throughout the 2 days and also our school therapy dog, Billy, was part of the team too!  The activities we selected were not focussed on a particular overall theme, apart from we wanted a range of activities that helped children to think, pray and reflect about themselves, others, the world and the divine.  

The children loved the space and every single child that visited the space was calm throughout, and noticeably calmer when they left.  Many of them said that being in the space and praying or reflecting had helped them to feel less stressed, it had calmed them down, helped them to process things that they don’t normally have time to process.  We had several children who were grieving due to a range of life circumstances, all of these children verbally expressed how the space and the activities had provided them with time and space to think about their grief, which they had appreciated.  Billy had his own prayer activity where children could spend some time chilling with him on the cushions and giving thanks for animals.  This activity was a huge hit!  

The teachers appreciated us running the space and understand the value that the space brings to the children and the school community.  After running several prayer spaces at the school, the school have more and more embraced prayer spaces and their importance, and see them as an integral part of the school calendar.  Through our work with Bristol Schools Connection we were able to invite other churches to come and visit the prayer space with a view to running their own in their local school.  We have done this several times now, and it has worked extremely well as people see it in action and ‘get it’ straight away – they go away keen to get started!  

All of the team see prayer spaces as precious Kingdom work, where we are able to set up a space which allows for spiritual dialogue between us and the children, and between the children and God.  For us as a team, it is a powerful way of being church in our village and connecting with almost every family through the prayer space.  We have had some great follow up conversations with parents too about the value of the space.  My overall highlight from running these prayer spaces is seeing children visibly enjoying reflecting and/or praying, and realising that we are helping to equip them to spend time reflecting/praying throughout their lives. 

We also set up some prayer space activities outside at the local village fete – this is part of our passion to be church in the community and to help develop a culture of prayer and reflection.  We are booked in to run another prayer space in May, but back in the wonderful outdoors! We can’t wait!