Want to run a Prayer Experiment workshop of your own? Please do!
We have run several - from our local Scout group, libraries, and various churches, to Greenbelt - and have tried various different ways of doing things.
Most commonly, we have had a set up with tables dotted around the place, providing different 'stations'. The ones we tend to use (space permitting) are: Prayer Den (though we tend to have a den already set up in this context, and the experiment is to try praying inside it rather than to make your own); Labyrinths; Colouring Prayers; Lego Modelling, Bedroom Door Prayers and Prayer Beads.
For a large group, such as a whole church or large youth gathering, it works well to just have two contrasting experiments on offer at a time. So for example at Greenbelt our first hour session in which there were both Colouring Prayers and Clay Modelling (not yet on this blog, but watch this space and see the write up of our Greenbelt trip for more details). The second had Labyrinths (both finger labyrinths, and paper print outs) and Prayer Beads on offer.
For each, we have a table or two with the resources on them, and with the 'instructions' or write up from this website printed out and laminated on the tables. Feel free to download bits from this website, and/or to write them up in your own words. You could, of course, also buy a copy of the book for each participant (that would be lovely of you!), or have them available for people to buy on the day - but do feel free to just use these ideas in your own way and adapt them as you see fit.
We tend to begin with a basic introduction to the concept, and outline what there is on each table. We try to gently encourage people not to chat, and to approach the activities consciously as acts of prayer rather than simply crafty fun. People go to whichever they want, and stay at each station as long as they want - some will do all of the activities, others may stay at one for the whole time.
For lego, you will need a large tub of mixed lego. I find putting it in a clear plastic underbed storage drawer works well, as it contains it whilst making it relatively easy to find the bits you want. You will also need to print off some Bible stories, as the idea is that people read the story and model it, so they have to really imagine what would be in the scene. Try to choose a good variety, but not too many or people will be paralysed with indecision - about 4 (they could all be on a particular theme if you have a theme to your day in mind).
Usually the lego has to be left behind, so I always offer to 'document the installations' by taking photos of the models people make on my phone, and emailing them to them there and then (so I don't forget or lose their email addresses).
For the colouring, we had both individual sheets (printed from the Flame Creative website), and we also - for the special occasion of Greenbelt - had one printed up as a large A0 PVC banner, to be coloured with Sharpies as a collaborative project which then decorated the space. This is pricey but well worth it for a special event - I'm taking one on my church weekend away next month!).
For the labyrinths, we had a wooden finger labyrinth (if you are in Newcastle or Durham dioceses these can be borrowed from the NE Religious Resources Centre).
We also on the table had a felt labyrinth (I made this one myself; I haven't seen them anywhere. But have a go if you like needle-felting! Or maybe someone you know could quilt one for you?).
And we printed out paper labyrinths (just google labyrinth images) too, and had pens available.
For the prayer beads, we have pots of mixed beads, sorted roughly by colour (ie, red beads in one pot, blue-green shades in another, plain beads suitable for the silence beads in another etc). We provided elastic (works better than string, as it is easier to put on the finished bracelet - and the end tends to stay together more making it easier to thread the beads on) and scissors. We also included lots of print outs of the bead instructions, so that people could take a copy away with them to remind themselves what the beads meant the first few times they used them.
I hope these suggestions help - have fun!
And don't exclude the adults...