Prayer and assembly
Time to pray or time to reflect?
Lisa Jones, Schools development worker for the South East considers this question:
You have arrived at that point in an assembly when you need to give the children an opportunity to respond. Now is the crunch question. Do you ask them to reflect or to pray? This is something to consider as you prepare for the assembly rather than leave it until you stand before the assembled group.
Some things to consider:
- What is my relationship with the school and with the head teacher in particular?
- What guidelines does the school give for their acts of collective worship?
- Is there an expectation that I will ask the children to pray or not?
- What am I aiming to do in the assembly?
Legally acts of collective worship are to be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian nature, unless the school has applied for a determination. However it does not mean that it gives us carte blanche to say any prayer.
Standing at the front of the whole school and seeing the faces of the children I am acutely aware of my position of responsibility and therefore I carefully consider what am I asking these children to join in with. We need to do the thinking beforehand so that when we invite them to join in we do so confident that we have responsibly helped them think things through.
If prayer is not part of the schools regular activity and you have a good relationship with the school, then you may want to suggest doing an assembly on prayer.
Another point I ponder in my preparation is what am I actually aiming to do in this assembly and what is my aim with assemblies generally. Therefore doing an assembly on prayer may be particularly useful. The assembly can help the children explore what prayer actually is and you can try a few different types to encourage more exploration. There are some ideas in this website about assemblies on prayer. Schools are concerned with learning about faith including practices such as prayer, so for those schools less confident or experienced in offering opportunities to pray you may be able to help them explore how to do so in a way that everyone is comfortable. There must always be an opportunity to opt out but when addressed properly you may be surprised by how many want to participate. For some prayer ideas have a look at Ultimate Creative prayer or visit our website .
Having said all this it is always good to leave students with something to ponder over in the days to come. Points of reflection can be built into the body of the assembly as well as at the end of the presentation. It can then be time to reflect and to pray.