Friday, 6 June 2014

Build a Prayer Den

The idea of building a prayer den came from two teenage girls I know, Rachel and Anna. They were trying some of the experiments in this book, and decided to also try praying in the den they had made in the corner of one of their bedrooms. They absolutely loved the experience, so they suggested I include it here.

Many people find it easier to pray in church, or in a chapel, than at home. There seems to be something helpful about deliberately going to a place that is set aside for prayer. In the past, wealthy Christians with grand houses would often have a chapel in their home, or a small room that was set aside for reading the Bible and praying.

Few of us have space for a chapel in our homes, but you could make a prayer corner in your room. As you go through this book trying the various experiments, why not keep some of the things you make and put them together on a shelf or windowsill in your room? Then you will build up your own personal collection of prayer objects and reminders, and create a prayer corner of your own.

This experiment takes that idea a step further. The idea is to make a small enclosed space to pray in - just big enough for one or maybe two people.

First, you’ll need to decide where to build the den. Could you make it in the corner of your bedroom? Or maybe in a family room, shed or garage? If it is summer, you might want to build one outside. This could either be something that just stays up for an afternoon, or a semi-permanent den, whatever suits the space you have available.

The easiest way to build it is to pitch a tent! You may have a tent for the garden, or do you have a younger brother or sister who has a pop-up play tent that you could borrow?

If you don’t have a tent, think about what you could use to give your den some strength and stability. You want to make sure you feel safe inside, so you don’t want to be worrying about whether it is going to collapse on you.

Here are some other ideas: a bottom bunk bed, with sheets or blankets clipped to the bunk above; a clothes airer; rearranging some pieces of furniture (chests of drawers, chairs, etc); a large cardboard box from something like a fridge or washing machine; underneath a table (inside or outside); underneath a rotary washing line or garden parasol outside.

Then cover your chosen framework with sheets, blankets, duvets etc, to make a completely enclosed space. You want it to be comfortable to sit in for a reasonable length of time, so cover the floor with pillows, cushions, beanbags etc.

Now you get to decide how to decorate your den inside! People that have tried this have particularly liked having fairy lights, or a lava lamp in the den. Or you could take a torch in with you. Just be careful only to use a low wattage lamp that doesn’t get hot, to avoid any risk of fire.

You may also want to add other things - maybe items from your prayer corner, bunting, or a rug. Make a space that feels snug and secure, somewhere you will enjoy sitting in and that feels very personal to you.

Once you have built the den, it is time to start using it to pray in. Just go in, sit down, and imagine that God is in there with you. You can either just sit quietly imagining yourself in God’s presence, or talk with him, or say prayers that you know such as the Lord’s prayer. Or why not try combining this experiment with others, and doing one or two of the other prayer activities suggested here in the den? 

Here is what Anna and Rachel had to say about trying this:

When I tried this, a friend and I had already built a den in my room, that we’d filled it with all our favourite things - soft toys, pillows, duvets. So we decided to use that to pray in together. It was quite a small space, so we were quite bunched up! It was very calming and atmospheric, and felt very warm, safe and enclosed. It was a really good environment for prayer. Praying in there with my friend, it felt like God was in there with us.

I really enjoyed praying in the den, this was definitely my favourite activity!
(Rachel, 15)

I loved praying in the den. It was much more comfortable than more formal ways of praying: I felt really safe, comfortable and enclosed in there. Also, being there with a friend made me think more about God as a friend, and that helped me feel a stronger bond of friendship with God. It felt very safe: God with us, the walls around us. Having fairy lights in the den was quite important too. They made it feel safer, as even the dark corners were lit up, and the fairy lights twinkling all around felt like they were symbolising God being in the den with us.
(Anna, 16)

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We welcome your comments, especially if you have tried the week's exercise yourself! Give it marks out of ten, or just let us know what you think. Please be aware we may quote you if we ever do write this up as book!