Candlelit prayer vigils
Outside prayer vigils to mark a particularly sad occasion or peaceably protest, are a meaningful way of doing “church” outside. For example the Church Army in Sheffield’s Centre of Mission runs a youth club that held a prayer vigil. “The young people had made candles during an alternative Halloween event. Various world conflicts had been reported in the news which the young people had been talking about. So after youth club ended we all gathered in the [local] flats’ gardens, lit candles and stayed in silence for 30 minutes. The kids really got into it and we were able to introduce the idea of prayer to them. It was very special. The young people were then held by God in the silence. It was a very powerful spiritual encounter.” (Captain Tim Smith).
Remembrance Day Services
Often these services are held outside, at a cross or memorial to fallen soldiers. As ecumenical services, attended by many community groups (e.g. uniformed groups like Scouts), they are a powerful witness to the church’s ability to express the feelings of the community.
Prayer walks are a good way to get church members active, both physically and spiritually. I imagine Nehemiah prayed as he walked around the broken down walls of Jerusalem (Neh 2:11-16).
One prayer walk I ran for children involved the following:
The “preparation dance” – preparing ourselves to go out with prayer for protection – involved the armour of God as described in Ephesians 6:14-17. In a group, we pretended to belt ourselves up with the “belt of truth”, thumped our chests to show we had the “breastplate of rightness”, stamped our feet with the “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”, took up the “shield of faith” with one arm and the “sword of the Spirit” with the other, and patted our heads to make sure we had the “helmet of salvation” on.
Suitably equipped, with lots of shouting and yelling, we set off, regularly asking God to “Bless this house!” We combined the prayer walk with giving out biscuits/cookies and singing carols as it was Christmas time, and few people could resist opening the door to a sweet child offering sweetmeats! Worshipping God with carols and praying gave an opportunity for spiritual blessings to come to this community. We finished by putting on the armour of God once more: a good evening well spent.