Prayer space held in West Norfolk school
The first ever West Norfolk ‘Prayer Space in School’ took place this week at St Michael’s in King’s Lynn. It was an opportunity for children to explore their faith and spirituality in a creative and interactive way.
by Helen Baldry
The Prayer Space venture is a partnership between the CROWNS Trust and the Diocese of Norwich and it was hosted by Christians from local churches. The Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, the Bishop of Lynn blessed the Prayer Space and officially opened it on the Monday morning.
Mark Heybourne from the Diocese said, "The Prayer Space gives young people the chance to engage with God as they understand Him, wherever they are on their spiritual journey. It's an interactive place. It assumes we pray to God all the time, just maybe don't recognise it as prayer.”
All subjects at school are required to address the spiritual growth of young people so it is a mutually beneficial situation for the schools as well. Classes came to visit the Prayer Space as part of their lessons and the children were encouraged to return in their break times.
The event was run by Kevin Baldwin
from CROWNS Trust who set up the resources in the Prayer Space which included quotes from the Bible, audio material on an MP3 player, pictures and stories. A common way to encourage young people to respond is a question such as ‘If God exists, what would you say to Him?’
One station in the room focused on Isaiah 14:16 “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
One child wrote his name on a hand shape and underneath ‘now God won’t forget about me!’
The ultimate testimony to the success of a Prayer Space can be seen in the depth of the responses of the children; their insightful comments reveal the importance of this sort of experience.
Kevin said, “The children are given a chance to put into words what they feel; things they might not usually get a chance to talk about.”
Many of the prayers were for brothers and sisters and family who live away from home. Some children use the Prayer Space as a chance to say sorry for things they have done wrong. Mark said, “My favourite prayer was left after the first and youngest class had visited the prayer space. It was a prayer request for 'super powers' and a confession about 'spitting in Tom’s drink!'"
Kevin was surprised how many self esteem issues there were amongst year 4 and 5s. There was a mirror in the Prayer Space where the children could look at themselves with the suggestion that they have been made in the image of God. Many of the girls said they were ugly and were critical of their appearance. Helpers had a chance to speak positively with these children.
The role of the adults was to be there to host and step in where needed. The year ones needed to be heavily guided with everything read out to them, whereas the older ones didn’t need so much input.
The team have received positive feedback from the event and St Michael’s will now have a permanent prayer space in an alcove of a main corridor. Parents and teachers are encouraged to get involved as well. Kevin said it was interesting how the staff use it, “It’s not just for the children. There might be something that parents want to say, for example worries they want to let go of."
Other Norfolk schools are keen to run a prayer space. It is a good way of creating a link between the school community and the church community and an opportunity for local Christians to work with their schools
Mark said, “I believe it is one of the most exciting and effective mission tools I have seen as a youth worker.”
If you are interested in running a Prayer Space in your church or school, please contact Mark Heybourne, Youth & Children's Work Development Manager for a resource pack and information or advice.
Tel: 01603 882362