Children’s Youth and Families Worker

Getting to the heart of prayer

Young people are curious about life. All of life  – the good and bad. Growing up raises lots of questions, some about their place in the world and others about the world itself; what is it like, how we are to be in it, what it has to offer. Many young people have a particular interest in the less material aspects of our existence, the spirit or the soul, the ways in which our bodies can enact something more meaningful than the here and now. All of these curiosities allow for young people to explore a sense of identity, of self-worth, or personal insight, meaning and purpose.

At Bishop Tyrrell, we are committed to joining with young people as they journey through this curiosity. As they test and probe what it might be like to live out the values which we seek to engender; to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Over the coming weeks, we have created a special space in the chapel, called a Prayer Space, where children and young people are able to explore life’s questions, spirituality and faith in a creative way. Taking a broadly Christian perspective as a starting place, the prayer space gives young people an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection, and to explore a spiritual response in an open, inclusive and safe environment. 

In this way, the prayer space invites students to have a spiritual experience on their own terms. One space involves selecting a stone and thinking of a time when the student was hurt by a cruel word or action. The student is then invited to reflect on these feelings and let the stone represent all those feelings of hurt and pain. Finally, the student is invited to let go of those feelings by dropping the stone into a basin of water. In doing so, students are invited to do the difficult work of forgiving the person who has hurt them. They are invited to remember that in forgiving, they too are forgiven.

At its heart, this is what prayer is all about. Seeking ways to look differently on our experiences – to reach out and ask for help with the things that most trouble us. Prayer is more than simply asking though, it is a chance for us to connect with the divine; with a God who calls to us and who longs to see us reflect his love. Pray need not have words – it may be no more or less than the time taken to recharge, or a simple act of kindness between two people. Such moments are powerful examples of prayer, of moments in which we give our attention totally over to God, despite distraction and disruption.

Our hope here at the College is that we can continue to provide our students with such opportunities – to stop, to breathe, to be still. In these moments, we are better able to recognise that we are more than the sum of our parts, that we are loved and heard and valued. Ultimately, by giving students these opportunities, we can instil in them the knowledge that their voice is heard and that they will continue to be heard, no matter what.

I look forward to sharing with you how our students found the prayer space.

Mark Thornton
Children’s Youth and Families Worker