Prayer For Unbelievers at Advent Time
Advent Prayer Stations
The following prayer stations are from an Advent Worship Experience we hosted a few years ago. They are meant to be self-directed and allow students to move from one station to the next in no particular order.
We gave students 40 minutes to travel around the room and explore and pray. Then we brought everyone back together for a closing acoustic worship set. To set the mood we had Sojourn Music’s album Advent Songs playing in the background.
Use any or all of these stations for your next Advent/Christmas worship experience or youth group gathering.
STATION 1: CONNECTING
– Copies of Luke 2:1-20 & Matthew 2:1-11– Traditional Nativity Set– Paper– Scissors
– Crayons / Markers
Read the Nativity Story from Luke 2:1-20 & Matthew 2:1-11.
Spend some time looking at the Nativity Scene and reflecting on the passage you just read. Although this event occurred over 2,000 years ago, we all play a major role in this story. And although we were not physically present, we still can connect to this scene.
Think about which character in this scene you identify with most at this point in your life: the expectant mom, the worried father, the lowly shepherds, the traveling magi, the animals wondering at the spectacle happening in their stable…
Use the paper, scissors, and markers provided to create a figurine of yourself. You can draw your ness or simply cutout a figure and write your name on it. Then place it in the Nativity Scene as a way of symbolically connecting yourself to the story and entering into the mystery of the Advent season.
STATION 2: FOCUSING
– Wrapped Box (with an opening on top)– Paper
Often it is easy for us to lose sight of the true meaning of the Christmas season. We are bombarded by mixed messages of what this time of year is all about. These distractions can, at times, make it difficult to focus on our faith and connection to God.
Spend a few moments naming some of the distractions that keep you from focusing on God and your relationship with Christ. These distractions might include worries, stress, issues you may have with family or friends or other relationships, or everyday things school, sports, TV, video games and the .
Then, using the note cards and pens, write down your list of distractions and place them inside the wrapped package. Think of this as a gesture of letting go of the things that hold you back. Now spend a moment considering how you can use this freedom to deepen your connection to God and focus on Him this Advent season.
STATION 3: PRAYING
– Strips of Red & Green Paper (to make a paper chain)– Roll of Tape
Take a moment to consider the names of people, places, or causes you would to lift up in prayer. As these names come to your mind, write them down on a strip of green or red paper. Then, use the tape to connect your strips as loops to the existing chain as a way of connecting your prayers with the prayers of others.
STATION 4: SEEING
– Various Digital Images of the Nativity Story
– Digital Picture Frame
Get into a comfortable position and spend some time looking at the images of the nativity and incarnation story. Admire the artistic interpretation of these scenes and imagine the thoughts and emotions of both the artist as he created the piece and also the subjects he was depicting.
As the images scroll, meditate on the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of that very first Christmas where God showed up in the form of a tiny baby.
STATION 5: WISHING
– Santa Claus Figurine or Image– Cross– Paper– Pens– Envelopes
– Mailbox (can be purchased from any hardware store)
Think back to when you were a young child and you wrote letters to Santa (if you never did… pretend). Think about the excitement and hope you had as you wrote to him, anxiously wishing for the things you wanted.
With those same emotions in mind, write a letter to God, sharing your wishes. Share your hopes and fears, your joys and sorrows. For years you may have put your hope in Santa Claus to bring you what you were wishing for. Now put your hope in God, the true Giver of all good gifts. When you have finished writing your letter to God, fold and seal it in an envelope and place it in the mailbox.
Finally, offer up prayer to God, thanking Him for all that He has already given to you and for all that He will continue to provide.
STATION 6: WAITING
– Post-It Notes
Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting. During this season we eagerly await the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. For hundreds of years God’s people anxiously awaited the promised Savior and we, as Christians today, anxiously await his return.
What are you waiting for this Advent season? Take a moment to consider that question. Then, write your answer on a Post-It note and stick it on the wall.
What do you think God is waiting for this Advent season? Take a moment to consider that question. Then, write your answer on a Post-It note and stick it on the wall.
STATION 7: PONDERING
– Votive Candles– Lighter
– 4 Signs that read: “Hope” “Peace” “Love” “Joy”
Each Sunday in Advent focuses on one of the following theme words: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. These words remind of the gifts Jesus Christ will bring to the world.
Take a few moments to ponder which of those gifts— Hope, Peace, Joy, or Love— you need most in your life right now. And which of those gifts do you feel you are most called by God to share with others in their lives right now?
As you ponder those things, light a candle place it by the gifts you identified— Hope, Peace, Joy, or Love.Finally, offer up a prayer to God, asking Him to bless you with the gifts you need and those with which you need to share with others.
Advent Prayer Stations at Church: A Deeper Way Into The Season
“People were invited to write their prayers of longing and put them in the empty manger – the same manger we would soon use for our Christmas pageant.”
Going Deeper in Advent
Advent – as they say in Godly Play – helps us get ready to enter the mystery of Christmas. But as we all know, there is so much busy-ness and activity during December that it's hard to make time to stop and watch; to ready our hearts for the gift that God gives us at Christmas.
Last Advent at St. Aidan's, in place of one Sunday sermon, I invited our congregation to spend time at Advent-themed prayer stations set up around the church. I created eight prayer stations, and everyone – people all ages – spent 15 minutes choosing one or more stations to engage with. We played meditative music in the background, and encouraged folks to go at their own pace.
8 Advent Prayer Stations
1. Make-Your-Own-Advent Calendar
Instead of taking the form of a calendar, people were invited to choose enough construction paper strips in purple and pink for each day of Advent.
On each strip, they wrote an idea for Advent that they could read each day as they built an Advent chain. I included a list of ideas of scripture passages, prayers, and acts of kindness and togetherness.
Imagining Ourselves in the Nativity Story
I put out a collection of crèche scenes, along with the printed Christmas narratives from Luke and Matthew, and invited people to imagine themselves as characters in the story. What would it have felt for each character? We also put out a supply of little wooden people figures from our Godly Play classroom that could represent 'us' in the story.
3. Candle Lighting
Our congregation is accustomed to lighting candles to represent our prayers. For this station I asked them to light a candle and pray for a place in their life – or in the world around them – where God’s light is needed to shine in the darkness.
At St. Aidan’s we have a simple labyrinth painted on the floor. Just the Holy Family, Magi, and shepherds, we too are on a journey to Bethlehem. People were invited to consider where they are on their journey with God.
5. Christmas Icon
We tore pieces from colorful Christmas catalogs and glued them onto a common poster to create an icon- image of Mary and the baby Jesus. I had drawn the outline of the figures, and I had a pre-colored “key” nearby so they knew which spaces should be covered with which colors. The enjoyed turning commercial ads into a holy artwork.
6. Rock Painting
Since this season can feel heavy for many of us, I had a basket of small rocks and small brushes with outdoor paint.
People were invited to pray for something that they are worried about or grieving as they painted words, images, or colors on their rocks.
After the rocks dried, we placed them along our outdoor labyrinth to accompany the community in their walking.
7. Prayers in the Manger
Advent is a time of waiting and longing as we anticipate the birth of Jesus in the manger on Christmas. People were invited to write their prayers of longing and put them in the empty manger – the same manger we would soon use for our Christmas pageant.
8. Christmas Cards
I set out dozens of blank Christmas cards with pens and crayons and invited people to write cards for people that could use some love or encouragement.
I set out addresses for folks from our own parish who are separated from us because of ill health or a move.
Afterwards, I collected 30 cards to mail to parishioners, who would be thrilled to receive a card and know we were thinking about them.
Advent Prayer Stations – Why It Works
Advent prayer stations are always well-received by worshippers of all ages. People enjoy the creativity and also the quiet time to pray. Children love all the options, and parents tell me the time feels very meaningful to them. In addition to offering the stations, I always invite people to pray quietly in their seats, if they prefer; and a few people choose that option.
Advent prayer stations is very adaptable. This practice works for our busy family service, our more traditional worship service, and our Celtic service. I encourage you to adapt this idea to your context – worship, intergenerational event, retreat, formation time, or other venue. In the midst of December, your people will thank you.
Elizabeth Rees is the associate rector at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA and part of the creation team for the Center for Spiritual Deepening at St. Aidan’s.She has three young children (5, 9, and 12) and is always looking for ways to make church and spirituality more welcoming and relevant to kids and their families.
You can read more of her work at reverendelizabeth.blogspot.com.
Advent Prayers for Families
The liturgical year begins with Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas. It is a season of preparation, waiting, and anticipation. Download and print these free Advent prayers for families to celebrate this joyous season. Available in English and Spanish.
Prayer for Lighting the Advent Wreath
Advent's light is a beacon of hope and a call to trust in the presence of Christ's love shining in the midst of our darkest days. We invite you to download Prayer for Lighting the Advent Wreath Prayer Card to use at home or in your parish.
Let Us Be Light Prayer Card
Advent is a time of great activity, which takes us from one place to another, often overwhelming us, but also filling us with renewed energy. We unwittingly combine religious and secular activities. We end up so weary that we forget what we are actually celebrating, awaiting the Light of the World.
We are all able to reflect the light that is Jesus. We still have time to slow down, take a break and devote time to getting ready and enjoying the wonderful Advent celebrations with our families.
We can still be the light to shine on others for them to see Jesus, the light of the world. We shall shine lights of friendship, love, companionship, generosity, compassion and peace.
Download the Let Us Be Light Prayer Card and share it with your community.
The Advent Wreath Activity
The Advent wreath that we see in our parishes during the month of December helps us to reflect upon and count the Sundays to come before the birth of Baby Jesus. This Advent wreath is ever present in our parishes and may also be placed in our homes.
Consider giving the Advent wreath higher significance this year. Rather than just having it as a Christmas decoration, pray weekly for a special purpose that needs an extra dose of hope. Download this small The Advent Wreath Activity, and practice it with your students, families or community.
Prayer for Advent Grace
What distractions keep you from discovering the beauty of Advent? We invite you to download a Prayer for Advent Grace Prayer Card, and use it in your parish or home.
Praying the O Antiphons
The “O Antiphons” are a tradition of prayer during a period of time known as the Octave of Advent. Thus, they begin on December 17th and continue through the 23rd. The seven antiphons are traditionally recited prior to the Magnificat during Vespers as part of the Liturgy of the Hours. The eighth day of the octave is Christmas Eve, so Vespers for that evening is the Christmas Vigil.
We invite you to download reflections on the “O Antiphons” and incorporate them into your personal reflections, as well as into your family or class activities.
Prayer for the Advent Wreath
During Advent, reflection and prayer help us to maintain awareness of God's mercy towards us. In this time of Advent, let us remember that mercy comes hand in hand with love and solidarity. Let us go out and heed those in need of our help and lead them to the mercy of God in Heaven. Download the Prayer for the Advent Wreath Prayer Card and herald it to all our brothers in Christ.
Voices of Advent Prayer Celebration
The meaning of Advent season is two-fold, reminding us both to remember the past and to look to the future. Advent is also a time to direct our hearts and minds to the joyful expectation of Christ's Second Coming. Download a colorful Voices of Advent lesson with a prayer celebration and suggested activities for children.
Simple Prayers for the Advent Wreath
The liturgical year begins with Advent, and with it the Christmas season. It is the magic time of the year when hope becomes most intense for the majority of Christians.
We usually say that the main significance of Advent is to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus's arrival in the world.
During Advent, let us direct all our faith and enthusiasm towards the memory of the glorious coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we can celebrate this sacred moment together. Download the Simple Prayers for the Advent Wreath Prayer Card and pray it joyfully with your family.