Symbols of Prayer

If you’ve ever tried to teach about prayer in a church, you have probably encountered the challenge of teaching about something that is largely invisible. Prayer is not something you can see. We know it works, just like we know gravity works. But we can’t see the process with our natural eyes.

Have you thought about creative ways you can teach prayer using symbols? While symbols don’t replace the power of prayer, they can offer a visible way to focus on an invisible process.

Also, symbols draw our attention. They elicit questions. They make us curious.

Like the symbols I just saw in our town square. There is a display of war veterans’ crosses and flags. Usually we see these lining our streets on national holidays. But here just a few are displayed, not on a holiday. It might be a Pearl Harbor remembrance, but I’m not sure. Even though I don’t know the specific reason, the display drew my attention. It caused me to ponder and explore.

What kind of symbols might you display in your church to help people ponder about prayer?

For a season, our church had a candle displayed in a window. The electric candle, which stayed perpetually lit, represented our prayer vigil for the healing of cancer. At the base of the candle, people could write names of people they were praying for. Whenever someone received healing, they could mark “Healed” across the name.

Not every person interacted with the candle. But people saw it as they walked by. They might have stopped to read what it was about. It was something to keep them thinking about prayer.

Prayer stations are another way churches can use to visibly represent prayer. You arrange an area with items that symbolize prayer. Perhaps include a card that invites prayer or lists some scripture verses to pray. Churches often use prayer stations during special seasons, like Lent. But what if you kept a prayer station up all year? Maybe change out the items to mark the seasons. That’s a powerful and visible way to keep people remembering and engaged with prayer.

In prayer leadership, it takes time to get people involved in learning about prayer. The placement of a few symbols around the church can help prepare fertile soil.

What kinds of prayer symbols have you used at your church? What other ideas might you try? Feel free to reply and share your ideas, so others can learn. I would love to hear your creative suggestions about using prayer symbols in churches.