No matter where you find yourself in ministry it is always good to have great resources at your disposal. I have been in ministry with youth for many years now and one of the musts that I believe you always need to have in your back pocket is a list of variations on prayer stations. Today I wanted to share with you 4 of the stations that I have found work very effectively for any youth ministry, no matter what size.
1. Joy, Hope, and Concerns
Supplies needed: Paper, Pens, Bulletin Board
The Joy, Hope, and Concerns station is probably my favorite because it is a station that can stay up all year long and a great way for the church as a whole to participate as well. The following is a picture of the board that is in the Youth Center at FUMC Cleburne.
This station is pretty self-explanatory but just for grins I will explain how this works. You can encourage your students as they go to this station to think of something they are joyful about, hoping for, and prayers that they need. I have always encouraged them to write as many as they want and as the spirit guides. It’s always pretty cool when a concern that was put up weeks prior turns into a joy. It also shows the students the things they were hoping for at the beginning of the semester and where they are now. The really cool element when it comes to the larger church is that you can encourage the rest of the congregation to look at this board and pray for any additions to the board. I have found this to be a really neat inter-generational activity for the youth ministry and the church as a whole.
2. Burdens at the Cross
Supplies Needed: A cross/altar, pens, and paper
This is a great one to use in a worship setting following the message or even at the beginning of a worship time. For this station encourage all students to write on a piece of paper a burden that they have weighing on them and then put it at the foot of the cross or on the altar. Another way to do this is to put a trash can by the altar and instruct them to crumble up their burden and throw them away, both are very effective. The following is a picture of middle school students at FUMC Cleburne engaging in this station.
Supplies needed: iPod/Smartphone that has ability to play music, a big bowl
Super low-prep if you have music already on your smartphone or have access to an iPod or computer. The point of this station is for students to sit in a room that is playing conversation-level music. A few of my music suggestions for this station would be Selah, The Digital Age, David Crowder, and anything you find similar to those.
As they gather in the room or area encourage them to get comfortable sitting somewhere they can be still and reflect. This obviously may be harder for some than others, but in my experience it is well-received by all. Play the music for 5-7 minutes and invite them into a period of stillness and prayer.
4. Lectio Divina
Supplies needed: Bible for leader, pens, and paper
This is a historic reflective experience that has been used in the church across denominations for many years, but is still a great experience for youth today. The following explains how you would engage in this station. Encourage your group to be ready to go into a time of stillness and reflection. I’ve found that you can put the following on pieces of paper as instructions for people participating:
Phase 1, Lectio (reading/listening)
Choose a passage of scripture. Try Mark 1:14-20 or Isaiah 40:1-5.
Read the passage twice. Don’t be caught by the literal meaning. Listen for the word or phrase that catches your attention. Silently focus on that word or phrase that caught their attention. Repeat it a few times and allow it to sift through heart and mind.
Phase 2, Meditatio (pondering)
As you continue to focus on your word or phrase, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings it evokes.
What images, what thoughts, what memories come to mind?
Continue to ask God to speak to you through this word, and continue to listen for the reply.
Phase 3, Oratio (responding)
At some point you may find yourself wanting to reply to God. What desires has your prayer awakened in you?
Maybe you have found an area of your life that needs some work.
Maybe you find you are grateful for something and you wish to express that gratitude.
Maybe you feel called to a new course of action in your life.
Do not rush the prayer. Continue to wait and listen as God forms your prayer and desire in you to hear.
Phase 4, Contemplatio (resting)
In this final phase of the prayer, the conversation with God draws to a close. Having heard a word from God and having expressed your response to that word, you now allow yourself to rest in silence.
Allow your mind to settle.
Close with a simple, “Thank you” or “Amen”.
*adapted from “Creating a Life with God” by Daniel Wolpert
I hope these stations will help you as they have helped me in my years of youth ministry. Blessings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Go in peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Student Ministries
First United Methodist Church