Prayer space

Horfield CE VC Primary School
Revd Lisa Wigmore
Holy Trinity, Horfield, Bristol City

Arriving as a curate, Lisa felt called to a ministry of prayer. Through engaging with the wider life of the school she was invited to take more of a lead. A prayer space now serves many of the children and has made an impact on their lives as well as in the wider community.

A link already existed through the vicar so Lisa began her work leading assemblies as well as freely offering her help in any other ways to the headteacher. Through involvement in the planning of RE and collective worship and through regularly visiting the school her relationship with staff and pupils grew. Inspired by the work of another church in the school a year before, Lisa asked if she could use a spare room for one lunchtime a week as a place for children to pray, reflect, share and contemplate.

The prayer space follows the school’s scheme of reflecting each week on a particular value so as to be a coherent adjunct as well as a radically novel part of school life. Sometimes the session will be quiet, sometimes musical, using candles, talking instead, employing crafts or walking outside. There are also beanbags which children may sit on to show that they want special prayer with Lisa.

This has led to many stories of children’s personal, profound encounters with God. Lisa has witnessed these but it is frequently parents who testify to the transformative impact of prayer on their children, especially those coping with problems. In turn, Lisa has had requests to visit non-church-going families at home to pray with them, to perform blessings, baptism and funerals.

The place of prayer in the school has been greatly strengthened. The RE co-ordinator is enthused and the school ran an amazing week-long prayer trail at Lent. Staff have asked for prayer for themselves, Lisa has been able to share prayer with children of other faiths, and children have themselves demanded that the prayer space is open 4 lunchtimes every week! There may be occasional increases in church attendance from this but the point is definitely not a number exercise. Rather, it brings God into the lives of children, families, staff and the community.