Houses of Prayer

What are Houses of Prayer?

Developed by Chester Diocese, we are a group of parishes seeking to appreciatively enquire and be more open, intentional and invitational for visitors to pray, (to experience spiritual encounter with God), as one aspect of mission.

This is because one of the foundational roles of church buildings has always been to be a ‘House of Prayer’ for all, wherever they are on the spiritual journey. But are we open for visitors outside service times? Do we intentionally invite, welcome and encourage non-members of the church to pray? Do we help people know how to pray? Creating spaces and resources for prayer is about how churches can work with their context to develop something meaningful.

Would you like to be part of the Houses of Prayer group? 

Join other interested parishes, share experiences and learn from one another. Our group of around 40 parishes meet every couple of months, either in person or online, with a few updates circulated by email between meetings. If you would like to join, please contact Rebecca Hathaway, Outreach Administrator, at rebecca.hathaway@chester.anglican.org. Also, see the Houses of Prayer Facebook page

Resources for creating prayer spaces

  • Prayer Resources List. The Houses of Prayer group have put together this list of useful resources to help parishes think about creating prayer spaces or providing resources for visitors to take away.
  • COVID-secure prayer stations, guidance by Thy Kingdom Come, although relevant at any point in the year.
  • Outdoor prayer spaces in the Diocese. Here's a summary of just some of the creative ways parishes in our Diocese have used their outside spaces for prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020/21.

Find a Space

Your parish may like to consider being part in the project, Find A Space: The church is open for you to sit, to think, to pray. We are encouraging parishes to open their doors for visitors for quiet reflection or prayer for a special week or weekend. Although launched as part of the COVID-19 recovery phase for summer 2021, the resources can be used at any time.

We've been inspired by the parable of the Great Banquet in Matthew 22, where the King sends his servants to take His invite beyond the usual people and out into the street corners, to invite those who would never expect to be invited. How could we send the invite out even wider into our communities to find a space in church buildings or grounds for quiet reflection or prayer?

Below are the Find a Space resources for you to use or adapt:

Research about spirituality and prayer 

Did you know research shows non-members of the church are interested in prayer?

1. Churches, COVID-19 and Communities: research report by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, University of York

Included in this research are findings about how local communities, (beyond the church congregation), have wanted to come to church buildings to pray during the COVID-19 pandemic, see Section 2.2.1: ‘Church buildings: spirituality, individual wellbeing, and worship', (p55-65). Key findings include:

  • 75% (three quarters) of non members of the church said they wanted to come for quiet reflection
  • 45%, nearly 1 in 2, non members said to pray and 41% said light a candle
  • Other reasons for wanting to visit church buildings connected with a prayerful ambience: 75% said for quiet reflection, 68% peaceful space, 50% remembering someone who has died, and 30% needing space to seek a new perspective.

This means the desire for prayer goes far beyond the church congregation. Non-members of the church wanted to come to church buildings for prayer or reflection.

2. Talking Jesus research

Key factors in practicing Christians coming to faith revealed (p23):

  • Nearly one in four (24%) said ‘an experience of the love of Jesus Christ’.
  • One in six (17%) said an ‘unexplained spiritual experience'
  • 3% said 'Dreams and visions’ and 4% said ‘Visiting/praying in open churches’
  • Together, these total 48%. This means about 1 in 2 practicing Christians attribute spiritual encounter as a key factor in coming to faith. This exceeds the influence of growing up in a Christian family, (41%).

3. The power of invitation

Learning from the Culture of Invitation about the power of inviting people, this can be applied to creating prayer spaces. They need to be public-facing; in other words, not based on the assumption that only people connected with church will want to pray or ask for prayer. How can your church welcome people to pray, and make it easy for them to do so? How can you promote your church being open for prayer in the locality? Do people who use the church hall know they can use the church building for prayer? How can you be more invitational? 

Reflections

Based on this research and experience within the Houses of Prayer group, being more intentional and invitational with offering space (inside or outside) for quiet reflection or prayer for non-members of the church has received a positive response. Of course, prayer can happen anywhere! Church buildings are only one space to connect with people in this way. So this is more about using what we have well in the church building and grounds rather than limiting the thinking to only consider these spaces.

What does this mean for your parish? What might you do next? 


Page last updated: 19th October 2021 3:36 PM