Advent Prayer Service Ideas and Tips

‘Tis the season for Advent prayer services! Most Catholic schools and parish religious education programs take the opportunity to gather students together in prayer in special ways during Advent. The following Advent prayer service ideas and tips are brought to you by various catechetical leaders from across the country. I think you’ll find their tips to be very helpful. Please add your best idea or tip in the comments below!

Advent Prayer Service Candles

“Tap into the kids’ genuine excitement, hope and light. These are three words that describe Advent perfectly, so take a step back and recognize the living examples of these Advent adjectives!”

Elizabeth Stowe Fennell, Stay at Home Mother, Former Middle School Religion Teacher and Second Grade Teacher


“Try a narration of the Christmas scene where a narrator tells the story and kids read Scriptures in the appropriate places to flesh out the story. For example, you start with the Annunciation. The narrator says Mary was praying and an angel appearing to her and said…then you have the student read a card with Luke 1:28 on it. You go through the rest of the Nativity story like that.”

Marc Cardaronella, Director of Religious Education, Holy Cross Parish, Champaign IL,


“A great activity for Advent is to learn about and put together a Jesse Tree. The Jesse tree uses Old and New Testament symbols to depict the genealogy of Christ. The following website has good reflections with Scripture passages and ornaments that can be easily downloaded:”

Linda Jensen, DRE, St. Pius X Catholic Church, Granger, IN


“As Advent has traditionally been understood as a Lent-in-miniature, many Lenten prayer services can easily be adapted to Advent with a simple alteration of a few words here and there to change the focus from anticipation of the Triduum to anticipation of the coming Messiah. I have found that in the midst of the excesses of the season, this perspective can help students realize the spiritual gifts available to them at this time of year.”

Peter E. Kennedy, A.C.D., M.A., Administrator of Adult Faith Formation, Archdiocese of Omaha


Bringing light to the world. A closing/sending forth element of an Advent prayer service we used in the past was to start in darkness. Each participant has a votive candle and a strike anywhere match. Have a beginning part of a prayer that describes themes of darkness and waiting for the coming of the Lord. Light a community candle (my preference was the 3-wick round “Trinity” candle). The first person shares how they will be light for the world during this time of waiting. He or she lights the candle with a match after sharing and the next person shares. Go around the room until everyone has shared. The closing part of the prayer describes God the Father bringing light to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ and what that looked like and our need to be light for the world. (Note: a variation of this was done using a glass cube cross that stood about 4 feet tall. The cubes had shelves on the back where votives could be placed. Participants would come forward and share or in silence and place their votive. By the end of the prayer, the cross and the room would be lit up.)”

Tauno Latvala, Director of CYO Athletics, Archdiocese of Seattle


“Don’t be afraid to incorporate silence into a class prayer service. For both adults and kids today, silence is a rare commodity. Teaching children, and especially teenagers, to appreciate silence and to listen for God’s voice is a powerful lesson.”
Dorian Speed, High School Catechist,

“Our students participate in Advent by helping prepare a comfortable place for Jesus to rest. A wooden manger is kept in the hallway and for each good deed they do during the season they put hay in the manger. This could be made part of an advent service by having students bring hay up to the manger one person at a time while other students take turn reading affirmations recognizing the simple beauty around us–thereby helping keep us “awake” to see the coming of Christ.”

Allison Welch, High School Theology Teacher, Visit her site at


What about you? What ideas and tips do you have to share with the rest of us? Post them in the comments below!


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  1. Every year we celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours during Advent and Lent.

    While this is rarely done in community at the parish level, I’m proud that I’m able to organize this.

    We celebrate Morning Prayer (Lauds) with the parish school children once each week. On Sunday evenings we celebrate Vespers with the parishioners. They are excellent experiences.

    I highly recommend any parish set up these for their community.

    • What a great idea. The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church, but it is so rarely said in parish groups and rarely with young people. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Yesterday at an Enrichment Session for 1st – 6th graders one of the things we focused on is that every Mass is a little Christmas because we encounter the King of Kings, the Bread of Life (Bethlehem means House of Bread) and Jesus was born in a manger where he lay in a feeding troff. Mass is always a great reminder of the wonder of God coming to earth.

    • William, this sounds like a great way to get children to understand the importance of the Mass we celebrate weekly. Easter, of course, is also a great time to give children this focus.

  3. Wow. Jared, sorry I missed out on this posting. Please let me play along a day late and a dollar short.

    Advent Calendars are a great way to teach the waiting…

  4. There are often wonderful resources that can be located on GodTube, YouTube, and Slideshare! Check out some of the Advent resources listed in the Advent section at! These can be used in a variety of ways. You could email the video links to parents weekly to share two minutes or more of an advent message. The weekly Advent prayer could be used in your classroom. This is almost the end of this Advent season. However, begin to imagine what you could do with these types of resources during the Lent season! Of course, music is wonderful and could be played in the background as students are arriving in their classroom!

    • Great ideas, Caroline, thank you! I really like the idea of emailing resources to the parents. Getting them involved is crucial to the success of any catechetical program and what better time to do this than during Advent and Lent.

  5. sherrie dunn says:

    Ideas for a prayer service for a 100 year church anniversary. Your response is appreciated