This resource is part of a series of interactive, intergenerational ideas for engaging people in faith practices through worship and/or midweek gatherings, brought to you by Worship Ministries and Faith Formation Ministries as part of the Faith Practices Project.
The faith practice of prayer is a way in which we actively submit ourselves and our world to God’s ongoing transformational work in Christ by expressing ourselves to God and listening for God to engage with us.
Below you’ll find a variety of intergenerational ideas on this faith practice. Choose from and then use the ideas to shape a summer series, plan a midweek gathering, weave into an all-ages small group study or house church gathering, and more.
There are so many ideas here that you probably won’t need them all. To help make choosing easier, we’ve organized them into three categories:
- Gather activities provide an introduction to the practice through reflection and connection.
- Grow experiences offer an opportunity to explore the practice in community in a way that can be repeated at home.
- Go resources encourage and equip participants to live out the practice.
For a list of other Scripture passages and songs you might also include during your gathering, see the Build-Your-Own Worship Service (or Series) on Prayer.
Engage the body. Prior to a time of prayer, invite everyone to place their hands on their heart (or in another posture they find comfortable) and to take several slow, deep breaths together as a way to experience being still before God. You might lead a prayer in which people are invited to clench fists as a physical expression of the worries they’re holding on to, and then to spread their fingers open slowly while giving those concerns to God and holding palms upward to receive God’s promises. The ideas in this video on Body Prayer from Sanctuary CRC may also be a helpful way to introduce prayer postures.
Offer prayers of praise. Follow a reading of Psalm 148 and/or a picture book such as Thank You, God by J. Bradley Wiggar or Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise by Tommie dePaola with popcorn prayers of praise in small groups—each person ‘popping’ in with a word or phrase describing something for which they are praising God.
Prayer journals. Invite someone who uses a prayer journal to tell about their practice and how it’s forming their faith. Provide each person with a simple notebook to use as a prayer journal. Practice using the journals together by sharing prayer requests with one another and writing or drawing those in the journals. Depending on your group, you might include time to personalize and decorate the covers.
Prayer walk. Take a 15-minute prayer walk. Don’t worry so much about crafting your words into a prayer; simply invite the Spirit to accompany you on this walk and lead you to notice what you see/smell/hear/touch. What does God love about the place you’re walking and the beings you encounter? Where are you noticing God? How might God be speaking to you? Who or what might God be inviting you to pray for or about?
Prayer talk. With a partner, think about a place you love to visit (restaurant, park, beach, the mall, church on Wednesday evenings). Write a prayer of gratitude naming all the things that this space brings to mind. Pray together for the people who work/play there and the community surrounding it.
Prayer labyrinths. Provide people with an opportunity to experience a slower-paced form of prayer by using a kind of labyrinth in which to stop at various points to reflect and pray. Depending on your context, you might make a walkable labyrinth with rocks, chalk, or rope; give each person a paper template of a labyrinth to use while seated; or show everyone how to shape their own labyrinth using a length of string. Inviting someone to share with the group how and why they use a prayer labyrinth is a good way to introduce the experience. The video Prayer Using Finger Labyrinth (Psalm 73 and 1 John 3:16) by Summer Mohrlang of Sanctuary CRC provides both an introduction to and an experience of this form of prayer.
Prayer sticks. Give each group a container filled with wooden craft sticks on which you’ve written prayer prompts of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication in accessible language: “God, you are . . .” “I’m sorry for . . .” “Thank you for . . .” and “Please. . . .” Participants can take turns choosing a stick and completing the sentence out loud as they talk to God together.
Goodnight Moon. Close by introducing a nighttime ritual of prayer. Read Goodnight Moon. Invite all ages to consider how they might use a similar ritual to end their day with thanksgiving. If you’re a child or teen, how might you talk with God about your day as you put your things (toys, schoolwork, art supplies, sports equipment) away? Adults, how might the practice of putting the house to sleep (turning off lights, locking doors, closing blinds, turning down the A/C or heat) provide an opportunity to connect with God?
Send people home with faith practice resources they can use to continue the practices they’ve experienced during your time together. Some ideas:
- Inexpensive notebooks to use as prayer journals
- Prayer sticks in a jar. (For a photo of this idea, see the post Try This Fresh Idea for Helping Families Explore Faith Practices this Summer.)
- 5 Ways to Pray at Home a free, printable resource for households with children
- Faith Practices: Holy Habits That Help Us Love God and Our Neighbor, Listen to the Spirit, and Become More Like Jesus—one booklet per person or household