Prayer Station- Letting Go

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Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

This prayer station was designed for the opening night of a women’s retreat. The opening night theme was “Let it go.” It could be used in many other settings as well.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <><

Prayer Station Instructions

Mark 6:31
Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Practice…

  • Turn off your phone and leave it in the basket. It will be returned to you at the end of the day.
  • Take off your watch, your Fitbit, or anything else you might carry to measure yourself and measure time. Leave it in the basket. It will be returned to you at the end of the day.
  •  Write
    •  Use the paper and pen to write your to-do list. Write down the things you “should” have done, things you are missing in order to be here, things still to be done
    • Write down the burdens you are carrying
    • Write down your worries, your concerns
    • When finished, fold the paper and write your name on the outside
    • Leave it in the basket as you entrust it to Jesus for the time we are together.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer Station Symbols

  • Blue, patterned tablecloth, small white dove, earthen water jar representing the refreshing living waters of God the Holy Spirit
  • Icon of Jesus offering a blessing known as Christ Pantocrator
  • Wooden statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb.
    • He will feed His fold like a shepherd; He will gather together His lambs—the weak and the wobbly ones—into His arms. He will carry them close to His bosom, and tenderly lead like a shepherd the mother of her lambs. Isaiah 40:11 The Voice Bible
  • Framed copy of Psalm 23.
    • The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. Psalm 23:1-3 The Voice Bible
  • Candle representing the Light of Christ and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
  • Green plant representing the hope and promise of new life and growth
  • Paper and pens for the writing project
  • Three baskets- one for phones, one for watches and Fitbits, one for the writing project

Click Here for the printout of the instructions for the prayer station

Prayer Station- Sandbox Confession

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Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

This prayer station was designed for the opening night of a women’s retreat. The opening night theme was “Let it go.” It could be used in many other settings as well.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <><

Prayer Station Instructions
Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Practice…
• Think about a concern, regret, burden, or sin. Sum it up in one word.
• Write that word in the sand. Take your time.
• Stay with the word for a moment.
• Wipe the word away, accepting the healing, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.
• Repeat as needed with other situations and words.
• Take your time. Stay as long as you need.

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

Prayer Station Symbols

  • Red, patterned tablecloth, empty cross, and victorious Christ statue representing the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection
  • Icon of Jesus healing the man born blind
  • IHS monogram and Chi-Rho monogram, ancient representation of Christ’s name. As Christians we call on the name of Jesus to save us, forgive us, and heal us.
  • Candle representing the Light of Christ and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
  • Green plant representing the hope and promise of new life and growth
  • Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery and Stone. When we are honest with ourselves, when we claim our universal need of forgiveness and the universal offer of forgiveness in Jesus, we lay down our stones of condemnation and death.
  • Shell, ancient symbol of baptism. We are named and claimed by God in our baptisms.
  • Sand
    • From dust we are formed and to dust we shall return. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
      • We are all in the same situation. We are all in need of God’s saving power and love.
    • As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)
    • Jesus writing in the sand when wisely, truthfully, and compassionately answering the accusations against the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:2-11)
      • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Click Here for the printout of the instructions for the prayer station
Click Here for the printout of the story of Jesus writing in the sand, the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11)

Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns

crown of thorns

Prayer Stations are interactive experiences with Scripture or devotional prompts. A simple, creative gesture can help us slow down and listen for what God reveals. The gesture likewise opens us to respond.

For me, utilizing the sense of touch in prayer takes me to a child-like place. I’m reminded of a less complicated time- a time of wonder, imagination, and play. It gets me out of my head and into my heart. I’m often surprised by the ease and depth of God’s interaction in these encounters.

I pray this idea encourages you to set aside some time to meet God in interactive prayer. If you choose to use this idea, or better yet create one of your own, I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <>< 

Items Needed

  • small grapevine wreath, approximately 6 inches across
  • wooden toothpicks. You could tea dye them if you wanted them to better match the wreath.
  • Scripture with instructions

Matthew 27:27-31 NRSV
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Below you will find several options. Choose one or create one of your own. Whatever you choose, read the scripture first and then pray through the prescribed actions. If you’re writing your own option, be sure to be clear what the gesture represents and what the prop represents.

Option 1- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He understands our pain. Place toothpicks in the wreath for people or groups of people who are bullied, verbally abused, and stereotyped. Be specific. Remove the toothpicks as you pray healing and new life for the victims and their abusers.

Option 2- The soldiers mocked Jesus without mercy. He was brutally bullied. Place toothpicks in the wreath as you think about instances when you have been the bully and when you have been bullied. Remove the toothpicks as you ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands as you accept God’s gift of new life and pray for an end to all bullying.

Option 3- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you confess your sins. Remove the toothpicks as you ask God to forgive you in Jesus’ Name. When the wreath is empty, hold it in your hands and claim the Good News of 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Option 4- Place toothpicks in the wreath as you name the various ways Jesus suffered. When complete, spend a few moments in wonder and worship at the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice and love. When you are finished, remove the toothpicks to reset the station for the next person.

Option 5- Supply a recording of a song or a person reading the lyrics of a song or a poem. Below are some suggestions. Persons place toothpicks in the wreath as they listen to the recording. When finished, the toothpicks are removed to reset the station for the next person. Here are some suggestions-

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Prayer Station- Crown of Thorns by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this service with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 4

photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 4a: Remember and Represent
Station 4b: Renew

The Setting
One half of a medium sized room with medium lighting. (Stations 3 and 4 can share the same room)  A white bed sheet or cloth is pinned to a wall. Instructions for station 4a are placed on a music stand a few feet from the wall so people encounter them as they approach the station. A bowl of water and a bowl of ashes are placed on a small table to the right of the white cloth. (Due to the amount of ashes needed for this exercise, we used ashes from a fireplace for this station rather than ashes made to be placed on a person’s forehead for Ash Wednesday.) Baby wipes and instructions for station 4b are placed on a small table to the left of the white cloth. A trash can is placed near this table.

The Experience
1. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4a: For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) Remember Who created you and what you were created for. By placing your hands into the water and then into the ash and then onto the wall, you are affirming your desire to join Jesus in bringing hope, salvation and new life to the world.

2. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4b: Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:22-24 NIV) You’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:11 The Message) As you clean your hands before exiting, thank God for this fresh start and invite Jesus to use your hands for good works.

My Experience
Confession and forgiveness, prayer and worship, growth and illumination. The journey with Christ naturally makes its way to joining Jesus in his mission. As I placed my ashy hands on the cloth, I remembered how eager Jesus was to get his hands dirty in saving work: the sawdust of honest labor as a carpenter, the rags of desperate lepers, the linen and spices of dead sons, the bread and fish of a miraculous meal, the salty spray when lifting Peter from drowning, the mud pie to make a blind man see.

I see Jesus smiling with a child-like delight while making the mud pies. (John 9:1-41) Our God is holy, pure. Yet God is willing to come down to our level, to be hands on, personal and intimate (how intimate is spit!), to get messy and dirty so we might be whole. Jesus making mud reminds me of Genesis 2 where God makes Adam (a whole person) out of mud and breathes life into him. (Adam literally means earth man or mud man.) Coming to faith requires remembering we are mortal/dust and in need of God’s eternal love and salvation. Embodying that faith means remembering those around us are also mortal/dust and sharing what we have found with them.

Jesus is willing to touch our lives, even though they are messy, oozing, and soiled. Am I as willing? As eager?

May the Blessed One
Open our lips in blessing
For words have the power to create or destroy
May the Blessed One
Open our hands in blessing
For actions have the power to heal or to wound
May the Blessed One
Open our hearts in blessing
That the grace poured in by Christ
Would overflow
To all, in all and through all

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This station is the fourth of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 1
Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 2
Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 3

© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 3

Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 3: Relate and Respond

The Setting
One half of a medium sized room with medium lighting. Art inspired by the character of God or Biblical stories is placed on easels or hung on a wall. (Our display included five paintings.) If the art was inspired by a scripture passage, display the reference to that passage with the art. Chairs face the art with a Bible on each chair. Consider having some of the chairs behind tables with pen and paper available for journaling or simple art supplies for drawing/sketching.

The Experience
1. As persons enter the room, they read the following: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go to meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV) The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus express the heart of God. How will you respond to a love this great? Some laugh, some cry, some worship or bow down, others paint. These paintings are responses to Jesus’ love story for us. What will your response be?

2. Persons may sit or stand for their time of reflection and prayer. Some will want to look up the Bible passages for one or more of the paintings. Some will want to journal or create a simple work of art themselves.

Tree of Life

My Experience
My eye was immediately drawn to the warm colors of the Tree of Life painting. (Revelation 22:1-6) It spoke to me of boundary breaking- the roots breaking through the dry soil, the trunk breaking open the surface of the ground, the branches breaking through the world’s box of legalistic religion and our tendencies to label who is inside and who is outside of God’s grace. It spoke to me of God’s ultimate triumph- the healing of the nations. The beauty and diversity of God’s people, fruitful and whole, one with each other and one in the Light of the Lamb.

How is God calling you to bring the healing of God’s Kingdom on earth, as it will be in heaven? What destructive boundaries need to be broken?

Aside
God first spoke to me through art. In my case it was through singing African American spirituals in school choirs. Later it was through worship music and church choirs.

After I became a pastor, I was introduced to spiritual journaling. This pattern of scripture reading and response deepened my walk with God dramatically. Journaling addressed a key problem I was having with my prayer time, staying focused. My mind wandered when I prayed. Journaling also opened me up to being more honest with God and to hearing God more clearly. I am often surprised where the conversation leads as pen touches paper. Journaling led to creative writing as a devotion practice. (liturgies, prayers, song lyrics and poetry) This blog was born so I could share it with others.

In 2010, I began to discover sacred visual art. (painting, collage, photography, mixed media, etc.) I realized how the use of color, space, and image could shape a small group or worship experience. The visual expression would often express things words alone could not. This is one of the reasons why we were so motivated to include an art related prayer station in this experience.

How does God speak to you through the arts?

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A huge THANK YOU to our friends at Orange City United Methodist Church in Orange City, Florida for lending us their sacred art.

This station is the third of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.

© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 2

At the cross. photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 2: Reflect and Rejoice

The Setting
A medium sized room with low lighting. Chairs and a kneeler face an empty cross. (We painted ours black.) We then painted the following words for reflection on a canvas drop cloth, hung it behind the cross, and illumined it with a spotlight: unconditional love, power, mercy, life, compassion, guidance, obedience, strength, sacrifice, healing, atonement, grace, Holy Spirit, forgiveness, and comfort.

The Experience
1. As persons enter the room, they read the following: Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 NRSV) The unconditional love of God brought Jesus to earth to die so that you may live. Reflect upon His sacrifice. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness and the gift of new life available to you through Christ.

2. Persons may sit or kneel for their time of reflection and prayer. Have tissues available as well as pen and paper for journaling.

A small group leader prepares a group of teens for their reflection time. photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.

My Experience
As I knelt before the cross, I slowly read the words. All were important in their own way, yet the word I returned to again and again was guidance. I remembered a story where the word guidance was broken apart to mean “God ‘u’ and ‘i’ dance.” I imagine gliding and spinning and leaping, all moves which require lightness of foot and freedom of movement.

What has me earthbound in this season of shedding- shedding false understandings, shedding sin sick ways, shedding illusions of God and self, shedding  stumbling blocks and inhibitions? What must be nailed to the cross so that the grace of God might flow freely in me and through me?

Leap of Faith
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

There are times when I feel in perfect rhythm with you
Other times I feel out of step
Confused and unnerved like a child on her first day of class

You offer me your hand again, that I may follow your lead
I want to fly in your arms, trusting you are always there to catch me
but I hold back
I have been dropped before by other partners

You understand
You are a patient teacher

You train me in the discipline of your ways
I become flexible and strong
Quicker to respond to your touch
You show me step after step
I begin to understand your timing
I want to trust it, even when you are beyond my sight
You move again and again and again in my life
My confidence in you grows
I take the leap of faith

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This station is the second of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and re-commitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.

prayer station © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Leap of Faith © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience: Station 1

Walking the Labyrinth. photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 1: Repent and Release

The Setting
A large room with low lighting. In the middle of the room is a canvas prayer labyrinth. Prayer labyrinths help people to take a spiritual journey. They have been around for a thousand years. The theme for this walk is confession and forgiveness.

One of our preschool classes, holding their rocks with both hands, walked carefully in a line like little ducklings between their teachers. (or should I say little lambs between their shepherds) photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The Experience
1. As participants enter the room, they are invited to sign in.

2. They read Rend Your Hearts, a Blessing for Ash Wednesday by Jan L. Richardson.

3. They receive ashes applied to their forehead in the shape of a cross. The host speaks the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel,” as the ashes are applied.

4. The participants remove their shoes.

5. The participants read the following: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NRSV). If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NRSV) Take a rock to symbolize the weight of guilt that we hold when we carry sin in our lives. As you walk through the labyrinth towards the center, walk with Christ and use that time to ask for forgiveness for these sins. When you reach the center, leave your rock there and know that when you release your burdens to the Lord, you can walk away free and without shame. In Christ, God has forgiven you and taken the load you bear.

6. The participants choose a rock from a basket of rocks and walk/pray the prayer labyrinth as instructed, walking to the center and following the same path back out.

7. The participants put their shoes back on and move to the next prayer station.

A toddler making her way straight across the paths to the center of the labyrinth Once there, she layed down on her tummy to look at the rocks. She then picked up a few to bring them back to us, delighted in accomplishing the task. Back and forth she went. She reminded me that “as far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

My Experience
Watching persons walk the labyrinth can be as moving an experience as walking it yourself. Much of Ash Wednesday, I had the joy of welcoming persons and explaining the meaning of this type of spiritual journey. Here’s just a few of the stories.

A small group leader said her rock felt lighter and lighter as she approached the center of the labyrinth.

A mom who came earlier in the day later brought back her whole family and a few of the neighborhood children. She walked the path again, this time carrying her infant son. Her husband carried him on the way back out of the labyrinth. The children stopped and prayed with each other when they reached the center, a sacred circle of siblings and friends.

A 93 year young seasoned saint who smiled and giggled. “I finished the whole thing.” So many of us are inspired by her faithfulness, grace, and enthusiasm for all that is Godly. She reminded me of the joy found in staying the course and finishing well with Christ. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

An elderly gentleman who confessed, “I tend to wander from the path.” He said this experience was the most profound Ash Wednesday experience he had ever had.

A three year old shuffling his feet quickly along the path who would now and then leap the purple divider between paths like an Olympic long jumper. He finished several journeys while his family completed their one journey. Each time he finished he would come over to me and shout, “I win!” His words rang with the victory over sin and death we find in Jesus. (Consider 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 1 John 5:3-4 or Zephaniah 3:17)

A group of tweens speed-walking the path, their steps reflecting the lightning pace of their lives. One stopped and said, “I’ve messed up.” Her friend said, “Come with me, I’ll help you.” photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

In the quiet of the afternoon, I had a chance to walk the labyrinth myself. Each time I walk one, the experience is different. During my walk, I was joined by a frail women who had just come from a cancer treatment. As we made our way, her struggle was evident. This could be her last Lenten journey. It could be mine. The ashes on her head spoke of her reality, a mortality we all share, “From dust you were born and to dust you shall return.” She chose to shorten her journey to the center. There she prayed and released her rock and her other burdens.

In watching her, I was so very grateful for God’s grace and forgiveness in that moment. There is no need to to follow a path made with human hands, no need to navigate rituals or rules, no need wait for God’s presence and pardon. “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

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A huge THANK YOU to our friends at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando, Florida for lending us their canvas prayer labyrinth.

This station is the first of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.

© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.