About this articleAn outdoor prayer activity for youth from Prayer Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens, by Joseph Grant, pp. 97-101
This outdoor prayer exercise is based on the belief that prayer is effective and blessings can travel like ripples all the way around the world. The young people form four small groups as part of a wider circle that directs prayers and calls to mind the needs of the people of each of the four quarters of our planet.
No more than 20 minutes
This activity works best with groups of thirty or fewer.
This is an outdoor prayer that will require a large open space. Be aware that it will be challenging to maintain the attention and focus of the young people when they move outdoors and spread out. Before moving outside give clear directions to the group members and affirm that this is a prayerful activity.
- a globe, an atlas, or a world map
- pencils, one for each small group
- four copies of the handout “Worldwide Prayer”
- a compass
- four pillar candles and matches
1. Introduce this activity by inviting the group members to reflect quietly on the following questions:
- How often do you pray for other people?
- Do you believe that praying for others helps them?
- What difference does prayer make in the world?
Hold up a globe, an atlas, or a world map and, using the image of ripples on a pond, invite the young people to imagine prayer as a sound, a blessing, a message, or a wave that can travel across our globe. You may wish to make the following comments in these or other words:
When we pray for others, we open our eyes and heart to them. Prayer changes the world by changing us. It helps us to see and know our world and ourselves differently.
Prayer can be an invitation that allows God into our life and into our world. Prayer can be a blessing, a good word spoken on behalf of God’s people, that travels around the world.
2. Divide the participants into four small groups and assign to each group one of the four cardinal directions, north, south, east, and west. Inform the young people that they will be creating and sending out prayers in each direction for the nations of the world. Challenge the group members to take 3 minutes to brainstorm the names of peoples, continents, and countries in their designated area. You may wish to pass a globe, atlas, or world map among the groups, and you may need to help the groups locate their areas. The following questions may be helpful in guiding the groups:
- Can you name the continents and the largest and smallest countries in your area?
- Where are people struggling with poverty, disease, famine, and conflict in your area?
- Which are the powerful nations and forces in your area?
- Who in your area needs our prayer and support as well as blessings from God?
3. Distribute to each group a pencil and a copy of the prayer from the handout “Worldwide Prayer.” Allow 5 minutes for the groups to complete the prayer. Explain that the groups will gather outdoors, in a wide circle, with each group arranged at the appropriate compass point in the circle. Before moving outdoors, make sure everyone knows what to do and affirm that this is a prayerful activity.
4. Reconvene the group outdoors. With the aid of a compass, place one pillar candle in each of the four cardinal directions and invite the small groups to gather around their respective candles. Place the compass and the map, atlas, or globe in the center of the circle. Light the candles. Starting with the group that faces east, invite a group member to extend the candle in the direction of the prayer and others to read their group’s worldwide prayer. Urge the readers to speak loudly and slowly. As one group prays, the others face the direction in which the prayer is being sent. Let the other groups read their prayer in turn, moving from the east to the south, the west, and the north. After prayers are sent out for the people in all four corners of the world, invite everyone to face the center for the closing prayer.
5. Conclude by praying the following adaptation of 1 John 5:14-15:
We are quite confident that God hears us whenever we ask for anything that is in accordance with God’s will. And knowing that God hears us whenever we ask, we also know that our request has already been granted.
- Scheduling this prayer at night will heighten its impact. In this case the young people can use candles and flashlights to shine lights in the direction of the prayers they are sending.
- This prayer activity can be staggered over a four-week period. Instead of splitting the group to cover all four cardinal directions, have the entire group direct prayer in only one of the directions on a given day each week.
- This prayer is effective when it is split into four different moments over the course of a day. In this way it provides a framework for prayer that moves clockwise, following the sun. Ideally, during a daylong retreat, prayer would begin in the early morning facing east, resume in mid-morning facing south, in mid-afternoon facing west, and in the evening, facing north.
- Invite the young people to make a poster of the world that is divided into four quarters or pie segments. In each of these segments, the young people write prayers for the people of the corresponding lands. Display this poster in a public location along with markers and instructions inviting other people to participate in worldwide prayer.
- This prayer is ideal as a response to the ongoing humanitarian crises in various parts of our world. After sharing information and learning about a specific situation of suffering or need, the young people can move outdoors and send prayer in the direction of the crisis.
- Ps. 19:1-4 (The heavens declare God’s glory in a voice that goes out through all the earth.)
- Isa. 40:28-29 (God created the boundaries of the earth and gives strength to the powerless.)
- Zech. 9:10 (The Messiah will proclaim peace for the nations and reign to the ends of the earth.)
- Mark 16:15 (Proclaim the Good News to the world.)
The Worldwide Prayer
God of the universe, we send out a prayer for the peoples of the
In a special way, we ask you to bless
We send this prayer across the world in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Permission to reproduce this handout for program use is granted.
Acknowledgments(This prayer idea is adapted from Prayer Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens by Joseph Grant, published by Saint Mary's Press, 2001) Copyright © 2001 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. These activities may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.)
Published September 11, 2001.