My addiction to prayer spaces began days after I retired from teaching

1st June 2023

My addiction to prayer spaces began days after I retired from teaching. Now that I had nothing to do, I was asked if I could help with putting up a 10m x 10m clear span tent in the grounds of a local secondary school. I said that I would, and only when it was erected, did I realise that the innards were to be a prayer space, installed by members of my church. I stayed around for the following week, and was smitten. Perchance, my junior school (where I am a school governor) were invited for a few sessions. On showing the headteacher what was inside, when he came with the minibus to collect the pupils, I asked whether I could put one up in our school. He agreed, and that was the start. I went to a Prayer Spaces in Schools training day in London, and one afternoon during the week of my second prayer space, I ran a workshop for teachers from across East Kent, with two guest speakers; thirty people attended, since which time, I have built and run prayer spaces in eight schools and four churches across Thanet. That includes learning to drive a single deck bus, void of seats, and delivering a prayer space venue to schools when they could not supply me with a room.

Every prayer space contains much that is the same, because those stations work, they provide engagement for the pupils. But there are always new ideas which arise from the nature of the school, their Christian values, the design of the venue, plus what is happening near and far, occupying the news. And it is the combination that makes every Prayer Space a tailor made introduction to Jesus for the pupils and staff. I ensure that the school, or the church, own the prayer space, and that it is my privilege to stimulate all those who pass through, and tarry a while, providing a transient hands on focus on faith. Building a relationship with some members of staff, and the headteacher, if possible, is crucial.

Prayer spaces open conversations with children into a Spiritual world that they comfortably inhabit. It is effortless for them to ask God a big question, to sit with a friend and exchange character cards, to make a stick man and write a prayer for healing for one of their sick family members. We are simply providing the door into a parallel universe, a world called the Kingdom of God. The effort that is required to design, prepare, install and run a prayer space, only adds weight to the response witnessed, the participation of those young lives, who absorb what is presented to them. The effort gives gravitas to the business of introducing Christ to young minds. It is beautifully important, and I remain addicted!

You will all know the top tips for running a prayer space, I am sure, but if I can be so bold as to mention a few that might be less obvious, they would be :

Check the school calendar to see if the prayer space can be planned alongside a parent’s afternoon or evening, or a school play etc. so that parents can have a look. 

Have as many different stations as is possible. Give plenty of choice, as there will always be favourites, and those that are ignored. 

Always talk to the teacher or TA, and get them involved. Listen to their stories of faith. (One TA and his friend came to faith as a result of bringing a class to a prayer space). 

NB Trevor hand paints his signs and has a beautiful values tree activity. He hides the school values into the tree for pupils to find, along with inviting them to add their own uniqueness to the tree with their fingerprint.