This morning as I was running my usual route, I noticed a little card tucked into the bridge post. Curious, I stopped to check it out and saw that it was a prayer. “Interesting,” I thought, “I wonder why it was placed here?” I paused to read the prayer before continuing on my way. The card had me thinking about a question a friend had asked earlier in the week: “What is the difference between prayer and meditation?”
I will not claim to be an expert on prayer. But, I did run across a possible answer from John Wesley, “all our actions likewise, even those that are indifferent in their own nature, may be made holy and good and acceptable to God, by a pure and holy intention.” (from “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, VI). I take this to mean that if our intention for meditation is to offer our thoughts to God, then this is prayer. I gave a similar explanation to several parents after our prayer station gathering on Sunday. The labyrinth, the blocks, the sand, the paint, these are not the prayers. Just as the card in the bridge inspired me to stop for prayer, these are simply objects used to remind us to focus our hearts on God.
Last week we placed prayer stations out for our entire congregation in the hour before worship. Toddlers, grandparents and all ages between, prayed together. I found it very moving to witness. What other place have I seen adults express joy at being able to use toys to pray at the same time toddlers are having psalms read to them? Finding faith building activities that appeal to a variety of ages and styles can be a challenge. If you are looking for a place to start, let me recommend setting up prayer stations. The instructions for several of ours, focused on individuals psalms to match our Lenten focus, are below.
Our stations were more individually oriented. However, I want to give a shout out to a fellow student, Michelle, who wrote an excellent piece, Community prayer stations: Creating a tool for reconciliation and unity , that came out this week in Worship Arts. I look forward to expanding our prayer station experience out into the community using some of her ideas.
Where have you found meaningful prayer station ideas?