Prayer Table Ideas for Religious Educators

Somewhere inside almost every religious education room or religion teacher’s room is a prayer table. Teachers and catechists use these prayer tables at various times and at various levels in throughout the year. Some pray with it daily; some let them collect dust in the back of the room.

The following prayer table ideas are taken from various experiences of religious educators.

 

A Collection of Prayer Table Ideas

You can read various, specific ideas and suggestions in the quotes below. Within them you will find various common elements and themes including:

  • Position the prayer table as the focal point of the room.
  • Focus on the readings of the week.
  • Set up the table to relate to the lesson of the day or the liturgical season (Advent, Lent, etc.).
  • Some of the most common sacramentals that you will find on a prayer table are a crucifix, a statue of Mary, a rosary, a candle, as well as a Bible.
  • The majority of teachers also use the prayer table for students to share their prayer intentions in an intentions box.

Prayer Table Ideas from the Field

My 7th graders’ prayer table is in a centrally-located spot in the classroom. At the beginning of the year, each student brought in a small item of significance, and we had a ceremony in which students explained the meaning of the item, then placed it on the table. I have a vinyl tablecloth (easy to clean) beneath the items, as well as a small 2-shelf stand containing various books by Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, etc., as well as the YOUCAT, a youth Bible, and a set of rosaries. I also have a sign-up calendar for prayer leaders and a God Can, where students can drop in prayer needs whenever they wish.

Laura Rudiger
St. Michael the Archangel
Cary, NC
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I am a 3rd Grade religion teacher at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Phoenix, AZ. We only have the children once a week for 1 ½ hours so it is important to set the mood at the very beginning of class. I like to incorporate the theme of the Gospel reading from the previous Sunday, OR the theme of the lesson if different. An example would be when introducing (or reintroducing) the Sacraments, I will display a symbol for each on the prayer table. Such as rings, a dish of oil, bottle of holy water, copy of the Act of Contrition etc. Also would include a candle and Bible with an appropriate verse which is read and discussed.

Carol Brescia
Corpus Christi Catholic Church
Phoenix, AZ
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I try to make my prayer table the focal point of my room, and change it with the liturgical seasons, i.e sacramentals, table clothes that match the liturgical colors and I incorporate them into my lesson plans. On top of that, I take the USCCB message and incorporate that in the year round theme, for example this year was “Do This In Memory of Me.” Included on my prayer table this year for every class was a wooden paten and chalice similar to what Jesus would have used, along with a loaf of bread and grapes, as well as a statue of the Last Supper. Words teach the best, in what we say and how we say it to our students, I have however found that using sacramentals and visual reminders of our face reinforces the message that we send every week for our students.

Tim Redinger
St. Andrews (Sloan)
Diocese of Buffalo
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I will sometimes change it to reflect what we might talk about that day, also changes with the Liturgical season.

Angi Jones
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We change the cloth just like Father does and talk about the church calendar. We have all the items in the back of the room and each child brings an item to the front for the prayer table. We read a verse and say a prayer with an electric candle lit during class. At the end of class we reverse the order.

Wendy Langer
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We change the cloth for the liturgical season, keep the Gospel from Sunday open (we change it on Friday when we prepare for the coming Sunday) and I have an framed illustration of whatever the “mystery of the week” is. This week it’s the Ascension as we pray the Glorious mysteries during Easter. I also have a crucifix.

Stacy Botthof Kynes
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Ditto on basics (cloth color for season, liturgical calendar nearby, crucifix, candle, bible, various seasonal items) with one twist: we keep the prayer table items in their own box, and allow the kids who arrive early to set it up. Another catechist has a “prayer bear” that travels home with a variety of students and another has an ‘intention jar’ where kids can whisper their prayer intentions in (any time during class) and they’re all lifted up in group prayer.

Kristi Jenkins
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Yes. A statue of Mary with child, it follows the color of the liturgical season, Infant of Prague statue, Bible, candle, rosary, prayer request book, and other symbols for the liturgical season.

Kimberly Gesser LeBreton
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When I teach beginning catechists about this, one thing we stress is that, unlike your example picture, the Bible should always be enthroned OPEN–signifying that the Word of God is open to all and is alive and active. It is never a closed book! The other tip I have is to consider this an act of abundance, not minimalism. As I go around, I often see a tiny cloth (often in the wrong color for the season), with a Bible and a cross and that’s it. I know portability is a problem for catechists who share a schoolroom. One would hope the day-school teacher, if it is a Catholic school, has a decent prayer focus, but this is often an afterthought. Bringing a sense of the sacred into the teaching space to differentiate it from other classrooms the children are in is very important, and we should not be skimpy about it. A decent-sized cloth, cross, candle, water bowl and a natural object or two can be packed into a small rolling suitcase. Catechists should feel free to be creative in their choice of cloth and objects. Express yourself; the kids will appreciate it.

Joyce Donahue
Diocese of Joliet
Liturgy and Catechesis Shall Kiss
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This is also where I post our school word of the month (currently it is “stewardship,” and has been tolerance, integrity, compassion, etc). A teacher I mentor has her prayer spot in a back corner of the room where students feeling out of sorts can go to be alone with God for a bit. It is like a calming place when middle school emotions rise too high. She does not send kids there but allows them to go there.

Jean Gengler
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This is a great topic. Since I have been teaching 8th grade religion, I usually combine the beginning prayer with the Bible reading with the lesson for that day or according to the Liturgical calendar. Every week I assign a particular student as the prayer leader and another student for the Bible reading.

Gerald Ciccone
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During Lent once I had a crucifix, candles and a terracotta pot on the prayer table. After a time of prayer and reflection, I asked the children to write what they would like to do better or change for the better in their lives. (I wrote one for myself too!) When they had finished, they brought it and placed it in the pot in silence, after a silent prayer before the crucifix. After a prayer and hymn (“Change My Heart O God”) I lit the papers and we sat in silence once more watching the papers burn. The children were preparing for Confirmation.

Marianne Johnpillai
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I have my prayer table and I change it out with different colors, fabrics, statues, the Nativity scene, candles, etc. It is right underneath the Liturgical Calendar so that students can see where we are in the Church year. Sometimes the students even bring me things they would like to display at the prayer table.

Kathleen Miller Dautremont
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We have an intention box and statue of Mary in addition to a few of the items mentioned above…

Kelly Foyle
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We also have an intentions box, a Bible, a Mary statue, and rosaries. This year my students also wrote prayer intentions on paper cutouts of candles to resemble the grotto at ND.

Marisa Foyle
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Due to lack of space, I have a corner of a countertop instead of a table. I have a large basket that the students put their intentions in each week. We start class each Monday by praying a decade of the rosary and focusing on our intentions for the week.

Julie Purcell Lobb
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I have a Bible, a rosary, a statue of Mary, a candle on a corner table. We add to the table depending on the them we are doing in religion.

Mary ‘Tere’ Reyes
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Thanks to all of you who shared your ideas on Facebook and via email!

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