Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook
Recently, a group of parents, teenagers, youth workers and clergy attended the London launch of the Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook at All Saints Church, Fulham. This fantastic new resource, the first of its kind, began life as a blog by mother and son, Miranda and Noah Threlfall-Holmes. This blog followed Noah’s introduction to various types of prayer, with Miranda providing the background to each practice and Noah writing up his experiences, thoughts and feelings.
The book incorporates some of the original blog posts as well as introducing a few new prayer examples. It also includes feedback from other teenagers to show the range of responses to each prayer practice. It deliberately avoids being a prescriptive, “how-to” manual on prayer and rather tries to offer different options, recognising that there is no one definitive way to pray.
The evening opened with a discussion between Miranda Threlfall-Holmes and the Revd Mary Hawes, National Children and Youth Adviser for the Church of England, which explored this journey from initial idea between mother and son, to blog to book.
The second half of the evening was much more interactive, with prayer stations set up around the church. These allowed adults and children alike to explore just a few of the ideas for prayer mentioned in the book. Some chose to make their own prayer beads, while others had a go at recreating Bible stories using Lego – a way of re-imagining the stories and engaging with them in a more creative way – Lectio Divina in plastic brick form.
Others prayed with their fingers using different types of labyrinth, whilst others got creative by colouring in prayers. This was a particularly interesting station, as the concept of “mindful colouring” is currently very popular, with bookshop shelves prominently displaying the latest in colouring books for adults. These prayer practices were not just appropriate for the younger participants!
The final station, however, was mainly aimed at teenagers and younger as there was limited space in the Prayer Den. This cosy environment enabled teenagers to experience prayer in a more intimate environment, something that is difficult to achieve in a larger space like a church. This designated prayer space had echoes of the command to “go into your room, close the door and pray”, encouraging teenagers to think not just about how they pray, but also where.
The evening ended with feedback from both adults and teens on what they had felt during the evening. Most agreed that the practices could be enjoyed by and be of benefit to a wider spectrum of people, not just teenagers. The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook, although a brilliant resource for youth, is actually helpful for anyone wanting to enrich their prayer life.
The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook is available from the Church House Bookshop.
Emily Richardson tweets for All Saints Fulham and the Moot Community, at St Mary Aldermary. She works in the charity sector, as a finance professional and an administrator. She was recently commissioned as a London Witness, for the Diocese of London, whereby she seeks to express the Christian Faith confidently and in a positive manner. In her spare time, she says that she drinks a lot of tea and enjoys blogging.