Prayer Space at St Richard’s School, Hanworth
In March this year, a team from St Richard’s Hanworth set up a prayer space in our neighbouring church primary school. Our team of volunteers guided Years 2, 3, 4 and 6 (year 5 were out on a trip) around the prayer stations. The team consisted of myself (I’m the children’s worker), our Vicar, Associate Vicar and a retired teacher from our neighbouring parish.
Before they came in, I told the children that this was a special space for them to be still and reflect, and asked them to be quiet in the space. We had five different prayer areas:
1. Plasma ball
The children were asked to think about how a plasma ball reminded them of God. We provided paper and pencils for them to write or draw their thoughts. One child drew a heart, another a world with arms around it and a third child drew a flower and wrote ‘Thank you’ next to it.
2. Bubble tube
A bubble tube, with Post-it notes for children to write their prayers on and stick on the tube, as they watched the bubbles rise up the tube like their prayers. The children prayed for a variety of things, from help with the school work and SATs to a good job in the future; from giving thanks for family and pets to asking for forgiveness and healing. Some children prayed for world peace and those who were sick or poor. One child wrote: “Dear God, thanks you for making and loving us.” Another wrote: “Please God help us to be kind and friendly.” Another Post-it read: “I would like my mum and dad to be happy.” Another bore the prayer: “I wish I had more friends.” The children also spent time thinking about what the bubbles meant. One wrote: “The bubbles spin around like mixed feelings,” Another wrote: “Bubbles always get to the top. You will eventually reach the top [heaven].”
3. Forgiveness stones
The children were asked to think of a time someone made them feel sad or angry, and to put that hurt into a stone and then drop it into a bowl of water. I asked them how they felt after they had done this, and lots of them said they felt happier afterwards. One child said they felt released. Another, before we started the activity, holding the stone in his hand, said it was like God holding the world in his hands.
4. Cardboard homes
Cardboard homes, where there were large cardboard boxes for the children to get into if they wished and think about those who are homeless and live on the streets. The children went on to write their prayers for homeless people on the boxes. One child wrote: “Dear God, keep them warm and safe, amen.”
5. Prayer tent
A prayer tent, an unstaffed space for them to sit in, be still and light a battery candle if they wished. I noticed one child who knelt by this space with a lit candle in front of him, and his hands together and eyes closed, praying.
Emma Hughes is Children’s and Families Worker at St Richard’s Hanworth.