6 Ways to Adapt Indoor and Outdoor Spaces for Individual Prayer and Reflection
It may be a while before we can use our church facilities for large-group gatherings. Nonetheless, there are creative ways to maximize all the square footage in a church, even big spaces that you may not currently be able to use for their intended purpose.
For example, one way to adapt large indoor and outdoor areas is to create a prayer walk. Even in quarantine, our attention and focus is pulled away from God. Prayer walks provide a place for solitary reflection and reconnection with God, while keeping people at a safe distance from each other.
Here are six ideas to consider for creating a prayer walk by Aspen architects, Craig Dobyns and Rob Gordon:
1. Consider who will use the space.
When laying out a prayer walk, first think through who will use it. Will it be used mostly by seasoned prayer warriors, or will it be used by those who are praying for the first time? Will it mainly be for your congregation, or will you open it up to the community? You may want to consider creating a space for those from your community to connect with God during this uncertain time, so be cognizant of where they’re at in their faith journey, and what kinds of prompts they might need to lay the groundwork for their prayer time.
2. Scale the space depending on your church’s needs.
You can create larger prayer walks by using open spaces, like spacious indoor lobbies, or outdoor fields or parking lots. You might add a pathway, with visual cues marked with verses or other words that will inspire prayer.
These marked paths could lead to sectioned-off spaces with benches and landscaping to provide a place to rest and promote deeper contemplation.
You might also want to consider a simple indoor space with good traffic flow where individuals can pass through for brief reflection. The space doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to provide motivation for prayer.
3. Pay attention to the design of the space.
Is the space comfortable? Does the design inspire a sense of peace? Consider inexpensive, soft seating where an individual can briefly rest during their walk. The addition of simple, ambient light can inspire and give cues for rest and reflection.
4. Make the space interactive and memorable.
You may want to include a simple white board where people can write down a prayer request or verse. Perhaps have pre-written requests, prayers, or thought-provoking poems pre-printed on paper that people can take with them. Consider including art, landscaping, or stimulating messaging that will encourage creative thought and contemplation.
5. Make the space visible at night.
If you’re planning an outdoor prayer walk, consider using special lighting so it will visible from the road as a reminder to your church community. This could also act as a way to attract new individuals to the idea of contemplative prayer.
6. Make it clear that the space is in use.
During this time of physical distancing, having a space that’s easy to see into will help keep people spaced properly and help avoid awkward situations of interrupting someone’s prayer time. Perhaps decorative glass could be used to act as a physical barrier, and at the same time, a window to see inside. You may want to use zones marked on pavement to help create proper social distance while individuals wait until they can enter the prayer space. Keeping traffic evenly spaced will help give people the safety they need, while giving individuals privacy and latitude for their time in prayer.
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We hope these ideas will spark innovative ways for your church to incorporate a prayer walk and other ways to inspire prayer and reflection for your congregation and community.