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
– 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 likeness 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)
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 like school, sports, TV, video games and the like.
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 like 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
– 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
– 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.