Plan your own prayer vigil for your congregation. Use these suggestions as a starting point, but adapt to fit your congregation and the available space and time frame.
What you need
- Photographs of children and statistics about children downloaded and printed from the child advocacy website; photos from a free use internet site, magazine photos or children’s drawings
- Sheets of poster board or presentation boards
- Quiet space to set up the stations
- Easels or wall space
- Votive candles or electric candles for each station
- Quiet reflective instrumental music, either recorded or live
- Copies of handout, “Pray for Children”
What you do
- With the permission of your session, choose a time for the prayer vigil. You may want to offer the vigil in the days before the Pentecost Offering, or as a part of a “Light a Candle for Children Forty Days’ Vigil of Prayer” leading up to the observance of the National Children’s Sabbath the third week in October.
- Depending on what best suits your resources, the vigil could be set up as a self-directed time of prayer for one to two hours, or it might be available in a space for several days where people could drop in and participate at their convenience. It can also be planned as more intentional prayer service.
- Send out a letter or post an announcement on your church website explaining the vigil.
- Look at the available photographs on this website. Choose some you would like to use. Follow the directions for downloading and printing them. Mount on sheets of poster board or on presentation boards, leaving space for the statistics. Print the title for each station on the poster board. Or you might use photos from a free access website or magazine pictures. Another option is to ask children in your congregations to make drawings.
- For the final station, “Pray for the Children of Our Hearts” cut out a large red construction paper heart to mount on the poster board in place of a photograph. Participants will add their own personal photos of children near and dear to them.
- Print the statistics from the website and mount alongside the photos.
- Make copies of the handout, “Pray for Children”, for participants.
- Choose some quiet recorded instrumental music to play during the prayer vigil, or make arrangements for musicians to play.
- Choose a space for the prayer vigil. With the permission of your pastor and session, you could set up the prayer stations in the sanctuary, but a quiet hallway or classroom space will also work.
- Set up the stations: At intervals around the space, set up easels, or attach poster board sheets to the walls. In front of or beside the stations, place votive candles or electronic candles.
- If you hold a prayer service, plan a simple opening liturgy that includes “A Litany for Children and the Church” or “A Call to Prayer”, a scripture reading, and perhaps an opening hymn. Then distribute copies of the prayers and give directions for the prayer vigil:
- Invite participants to choose a prayer station from which to begin, read and reflect on the statistics, then gaze on the picture at the station and pray the printed prayer (or one of their own).
- They are free to move to the next station whenever they are ready.
- The final station should be “Pray for the Children of Our Hearts” Those who have photos of children near to their own hearts can attach them to the poster.
And more …
Include a “take action” as participants leave the prayer vigil. Set up a table where persons can write a letter to your member of Congress on an issue like health care for children, public education, child poverty, or whatever issue is currently on the front burner. Or if your congregation is already involved in work on a particular justice issue, tailor the action to work you are already doing. Almost every issue related to compassion and justice impacts the lives of children.
Hold a progressive prayer vigil. Instead of holding a vigil of prayer for many issues, set up just one station every week for several weeks. Place this station in a quiet corner, but in a place where members of the congregation will pass by it on the way to worship or a study group.