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Prayer Stations

April 3, 2012

Several years ago I was at the National Youth Workers Convention, which is a four-day conference for…you guessed it…youth workers. It’s full of great worship services, concerts, workshops on how to be a better youth minister, how to get your youth to dive deeper in their prayer life, how to play sillier games, and how to keep your sanity while doing all of the above. Since they encouraged us not to attend everything, and to spend time tending to our souls, I didn’t feel guilty one day for skipping a workshop and wandering around the conference center. By that point in the weekend I was either on information overload, or just didn’t see any workshops that looked enticing enough to hold my attention, so I left the class and tried to find something to do for the next hour. I considered a nap on one of the couches in the hallway, but my mind was too wired to sleep. Being too wired meant a coffee break was also out of the question. I walked past the room that contained the prayer stations. A few minutes later, I walked past it again. Then, after some internal debating, I walked inside.

I don’t know what I expected to find when I heard the word “prayer stations,” but it was not this. I wasn’t in a particularly prayerful mood, which is why I had walked past it originally. I didn’t want to be attacked by someone who would make me spill my deepest secrets so they could pray with me out loud. And thankfully, I didn’t find anyone either. I just wanted some time to myself, a chance to rest, and perhaps try something new that would allow me to tend to my soul. In that quiet room, that’s exactly what I found.

As I entered there was a place to remember your baptism. I touched my finger in the cool water and made the sign of the cross on my forehead, giving thanks that God has initiated me into the family and I am a lifelong member. In the corner of the room was an area covered in giant pillows and soft blankets. The sign invited people to come and simply rest from whatever makes them weary. Ah, after such a busy and full schedule of the conference, someone knew exactly what we may need. I moved throughout the room and experienced scripture posted at each station, with hands-on interaction to help me consider the Word more deeply. There were things to touch, to look at, to taste, to draw, to smell, to create, to consider.

It was perfect.

From a leadership standpoint, I was immediately drawn in to all the intentional detail that went into making these stations. How the living water station had yards of blue fabric draped to look like a waterfall cascading down onto the table. The wailing wall consisted of a creviced brick wall, with tiny little spaces to stick your written prayers into, just like the cracks in the wall in Israel.


From a spiritual standpoint, I found myself getting caught up in the self-directed chance to pray. Sometimes I have trouble focusing, and can’t think of the words to say when I’m in prayer. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit still and simply be silent and turn my thoughts toward God. But here, here it crept up on me like a gentle breeze, or perhaps it was the breath of the Holy Spirit. Here it became easier to follow the simple instructions, to read the meditations, to experience the prayers with my hands and eyes, my posture and breathing. So from a moment where I found myself bored and unsettled, stumbling into this room became truly a gift. It became a way to tend to my soul.


Having such a refreshing experience with the prayer stations caused me to want to share this moment with others. And so I have. In honor of Holy Week, we have set up 18 prayer stations at Snellville UMC, in the gathering room and sanctuary. We have opened the place for a time of quiet and prayerful reflection. Instructions are written in English and Spanish and you can guide yourself through at your own pace. I invite you to come and experience. No one will be watching or counting your attendance. No one will force you to pray with them or share your concerns. This is a time between you and God. This is a time to consider the scriptures in a way you never have before. This is a time for you to be surprised by the Spirit and embraced in God’s love.

I hope you will come.


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 5, 2012 4:24 pm

    Julie, you have just casued me to re-new my resolve to go MAKE time to go by the church and visit the prayer stations again this year.

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