I LOVE Prayer Stations! They are one of my absolute favorite things to use. Ever. Seriously, if you’ve never used these before, please consider exploring this teaching technique.
No, “teaching technique” isn’t the right description. Rather, prayer stations are mini environments created for the worshiper to encounter God in unique ways that cover all the learning styles. Through prayer stations we are creating guided opportunities for students to spend time in God’s presence. We are no longer saying to them, “Read your Bible and spend time with God,” but we are teaching them how to spend time with God by actually spending time with God. Prayer stations create opportunities for students to speak with God through guided conversations, and, also, listen for His voice.
Prayer Stations as Centers
Each station has a specific theme & activity for the participants to complete. For example, one station might be focused on forgiveness. Short “instructions” are included to unpack what forgiveness is and why we need it or why God offers it. Then there is a simple task for the participant to complete. Perhaps the participants spend some time confessing their sins on an individual dry erase board, asks God for forgiveness, then wipes the board clean and thanks God for His forgiveness. Be sure to include enough supplies for everyone to accomplish the task and not be on top of one another.
Depending on your set up, group size, and time alloted you can generally have anywhere from 4-10 stations set up at one time. These can all fit in one classroom or be spread out throughout your entire church (often depends on the audience size).
Prayer stations are generally heavy on supplies & prep time but don’t always have to be. I’ve done an Easter Prayer Path that took weeks of planning & prep and was supply heavy – think VBS for a one-day Easter Prayer Path – complete with turning classrooms into a tomb and a garden. I also recently did a prayer path for a lesson on David & Goliath which required minimal supplies and set up only took 20 minutes. Go big or go home. Or the simpler the better. Both theories work & have their time & place in the prayer path world.
I generally try to create stations that can be self-guided by the worshipers so that I do not need to have each station manned or hosted by volunteers. However, one time we were trying to get our Youth Ministry more involved so our Youth Minister had different kids lead each station. It worked beautifully!
Prayer Station Themes
Here are 3 Prayer Paths I have used in the past. All include stations I have adapted from various sources or written myself.
- Easter Prayer Path – This PP was written for families to participate in together prior to our Good Friday service. Prayer paths that include preschool aged children work best when they can do it with their families. After all, someone needs to be able to read the directions to them! Stations were set up all over the building to accommodate a large crowd.
- David’s Life Prayer Stations – This PP was written for a week at camp with kids who had completed 2nd-5th grades. The version included here is a compilation of some of the stations used throughout the week. Each day we explored a different theme & story from David’s life. The stations offered fit that day’s theme. Incorporating these stations allowed me to do some teaching with the large group first and then students were able to individually respond to God through these stations. Stations were set up in our large group room (with a few being outside). Students were asked to limit the number of people at each station (I think it was no more than 6/station at a time) and to remain silent so as not to distract their friends.
- Worship Response Stations – These stations are written and designed for our students during their small group time every Sunday. We generally have 5 stations available at a time and we rotate those out periodically. As you can see these are more generic so that it doesn’t matter what the specific lesson is that day. The goal is for our kids to be able to respond to God.
Prayer Stations for ALL ages!
By design prayer stations are intergenerational. A 4-year-old can understand than when his mistakes are written on a dry erase board and he asks God to forgive him that He wipes the board clean like they never happened just as simply as that speaks to my grown woman heart. Parents who struggle to know how to have faith conversations with their young children can practice with guided instructions and activities at a prayer station. I have been using the David prayer path written for elementary kids at a Bible study for moms with only minor tweaks (substituting “school” and “homework” for “job” and “laundry”, etc.). It works not because these moms aren’t smart but because God speaks through these experiences. We all need to be forgiven, to forgive others, to be reminded of who God is, and to know how much He loves us. Regardless of age. Or gender. Or demographic. God speaks when we create the space to listen.
State your expectations.
No matter the age, setting or group size I would highly recommend always having a time of sharing the expectations with your audience whether in written or oral instructions. Do worshipers rotate at their own pace or at your signal? Silence or partner/group work? How many people can each station accommodate at a time? If the station is full what do they do? Do they rotate in a certain order or as they want?
I had one older camp counselor share her concern that our children wouldn’t be able to handle the expectations of the prayer stations. I respectfully listened and then assured her I knew it would be possible because these kids had done them before. She told me after camp she was amazed by how much the kids got out of the stations and that she was glad she had been wrong. When kids know the expectations – and they are enforced – they will operate within the boundaries expected. Well, most of the time. Because they are still kids!
- Pinterest. I mean really, how did we ever function without Pinterest?! Just type in “Prayer Stations” and have fun!
- Rethinking Youth Ministry – Many prayer paths I’ve adapted come from their resources. Like I said, prayer stations transcend ages so they generally take very little tweaking or adapting – mostly just more kid-friendly wording.
- Sacred Space by Dan Kimball & Lilly Lewin – This is one of my favorite resources to start with. Written for Youth Ministry but easily adaptable.
- Imaginative Prayer for Youth Ministry by Jeannie Oestreicher & Larry Warner
- The Secret Weapon: Teaching Kids to Pray by Tina Houser
- Teaching Kids Authentic Worship by Kathleen Chapman
If you’re new to prayer stations, don’t be scared to give them a shot. Say a prayer or two and trust God to work in powerful ways in your kids’ hearts. God always shows up when we give Him room to speak.
A final note to those who may be new to prayer stations: Many logistic details were not expanded on. Please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message to ask further questions. I’m more than happy to give you more details then you’ll know what to do with! Happy praying!