Magazines 2022 Mar - Apr An invitation to prayer

An invitation to prayer

27 February 2022

Pastoral intern Nina Schuurman-Drenth explains her church's creative way to love their neighbours by opening a prayer room.

The church

Eucharist Church Hamilton, Ont. www.EucharistChurch.ca

The challenge

How can a church provide inviting space to their community and not just on Sundays?

The idea

Unlock the doors and welcome the neighbourhood into a public prayer room.

The cost

$100 for supplies, but this could also be done for free.

The prayer room has been a way we could lead folks to just sit and encounter transcendence. Now the building is open Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as Sundays. The prayer room is right in the sanctuary.

It’s kind of like when you’re in Europe, and there’s a cathedral with the doors wide open and you can just pop in. There’s a little sandwich board outside that has some pithy statement like "Have you been processing the last year and a half? So have we. Come in." One of us is around if someone wants to have a spiritual chat. We lurk quietly in the background. But people appreciate the opportunity to just be anonymously in a church sometime. The whole point of a prayer room is to have an encounter with God. There is the odd time conversation that’s helpful, but most times we want to let the seeds sit and grow without meddling.

People appreciate the opportunity to just be anonymously in a church sometime.

We put prompts to prayer around the room. We have different stations where people can sit and journal and pray, but then we just leave it alone and trust God. At the back we have a station with a little booklet that I wrote called How the Heck Do You Pray? It’s an accessible, cheeky booklet that gets at what prayer is. The second station is a little bit about grief and is partitioned off for privacy. There’s a chair and candles they can light to think about hope in the midst of darkness, and a piece of art to meditate on for a visio divina. The third station is around the theme of gratitude and there is an art supply and collage material. The ground is laid with paper. The kids love that spot.

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All around the room there is fabric string people can clothespin on their prayers. Finally at the very front there is a tent with a side entrance, and there’s a little altar with Psalm 91 open in the Bible. That’s a place intended to be a holy of holies where you can think about God as your refuge and fortress.

I think it’s important to remember church buildings are such a gift, and there’s something about church buildings that are so sacred and important because they are non-economic spaces. People don’t flock to prayer rooms. But they can be entirely life changing.

→ Do you have a story to share about your church’s community outreach? Contact our editors at [email protected]. Read more stories at www.FaithToday.ca/CIC.

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Go deeper with this idea on the Faith Today Podcast with Nina Schuurman-Drenth at www.FaithToday.ca/Podcasts.

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