Locked out of church? Give some thought to making a soothing prayer place at home. In Melbourne, Victoria churches have been closed since March. Now with Stage 4 restrictions activated, we cannot go to our places of worship. The church we drop in on at lunch time or attend on Sundays is shut. Many congregations are offering live stream services or zoom services. All good and fine.

However, we have lost the places that we associate with quiet and prayer. Where can we go when we want to pray in silence and in a holy place?

What if you could find a quiet place in your own home? I will show you step by step, how to make a calming prayer place at home.

Another reason to make a prayer place at home is in preparation for a retreat in daily life or a directed retreat during isolation. We might think that our regular prayer does not warrant a dedicated space. However, when you make a retreat from home, you will enjoy a space set apart for prayer.

Create a Place That Encourages Your Prayer

Finding the best place to pray is very important.  Being able to return to the same safe and comfortable place each time becomes linked in my mind to prayer. Returning to the same place helps me to settle more readily. Knowing the place is prepared and waiting strengthens my resolve to pray. Seeing the place as I walk past during the day also reinforces my intention.

How to Make a Soothing Prayer Place at Home

A visual focus area to set apart space for prayer. Personalise with symbolic items which are meaningful to you.

Take the opportunity to experiment with different locations.  Body posture and visual focus are also important. We will talk about these shortly. The goal is to create a place that encourages and supports prayer.

One way to consider the positive is to explore the negative – what environmental factors would discourage or undermine prayer? Try one room and then another.  Test various chairs or find a suitable rug.  Notice what outer props will support your inner movement. Discover what works for you to pray intentionally for a sustained period of time.

Simple Steps to Making a Soothing Prayer Place at Home

1. Finding a Safe Place

The first step to make a soothing prayer place at home is to find a safe place. A safe place means that I have the privacy that I need and I am confident that I will not be interrupted (or for introverts, not be overheard). That may mean

  • being selective about the time of day when others are out of the house or office.
  • gently informing householders of my intention and how I want to use the next hour.
  • developing a nonverbal signal such as a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

Find a private place to pray where you won’t be interrupted.

Do you know the story of Susannah Wesley? Susannah was the mother of Charles and John Wesley. She was a strong believer in daily prayer. The story goes that when she could not find a private place in the house to pray, she would sit down with her apron over her head as a sign to the children to be extra quiet as she was praying!

In Mathew 6.6 Jesus encourages going to your room to prayer. We know that Jesus took himself apart (to the wilderness, Luke 5.16; the mountains, Luke 6.12; a private place, Luke 9.18; to a certain place, Luke 11.1; a solitary place, Mark 1.35) to pray.

What is the important theme here is separation from the daily round.  The “room” could be literally a room or metaphorically a place in my imagination.

Not many of us have houses big enough to have a room exclusively dedicated to prayer so it is more likely that the space is multipurpose.  However, I can create a specific prayer place within that room by the orientation of the chair and some items to create a focus area.

For example, in a previous home office I used the same chair for prayer that I had at my desk.  However, for prayer it was moved away from the desk about a metre and turned towards a side table that had been prepared as a focus area. (See step 3, Creating a Sacred Space)

2. Finding a Comfortable Space

The second step to making a soothing prayer place at home is for it to be comfortable. A comfortable place takes in physical aspects such as furniture and temperature.  For example, a firm chair with good back support is important if you are planning to sit.  A mid-range temperature that is neither too hot (falling asleep) or too cold (distracted by shivering) is another important factor.  A knee rug or prayer shawl (over the shoulders) can be a useful addition.

Posture is another aspect of comfort.  Many like to sit to pray so find a meditative posture helpful –both  feet flat on the ground; bottom back into the chair; spine upright and comfortable; head, neck and shoulders in alignment; hands resting on thighs with open hands facing up.

Find a comfortable posture for your prayer. (Photo Jeremy Yap, Unsplash)

The psalmist tells of thinking of God “on my bed.” (Psalm 4.4 and 63.6)  I know of one woman who prays in bed and has done for years.  She gets up in the morning, makes a cuppa and returns to bed. Then she sits up with extra pillows for back support and holds her materials on her knees.  Temperature control is by blankets and garments.  Not that I am suggesting everyone does this but it works for her.

(If you are using the bed, just ensure that your posture is not the same as the posture for sleeping, otherwise your body will make the link and you might fall asleep instead!  For those who like to lay down to pray, I would suggest suitable knee or back support  but not have your head on a pillow, so your head and spine are in alignment. Experiment with what works for you.)

3. Creating a Sacred Space

The third step to make a soothing prayer place at home is in preparing a visual focus area. A visual focus area can be an aid to prayer. As the visual focus helps set the place apart it demarcates a sense of sacred space. A set apart space is a further reminder of the personal intention to pray.

Creating a sacred space can be done simply in about 10 minutes with a little thought and preparation.  Components could include a candle in a safe holder, a cross or other symbolic item, flowers or bark or some other natural feature, draped cloth (for example, shawl or scarves) or a place-mat for a small space.

Seven Steps to Create a Focal Point for Prayer

  1. Find a starting point. For example, a bunch of lavender or the pattern of the carpet in the room in use or a colourful candle.
  2. Choose a colour scheme from that starting point. For example, purple and green scarves to match the lavender.  Alternatively, burgundy and grey fabric to match the carpet. The colours you choose will also depend on what you have access to at home. For example, check the linen press for pillow slips or table clothes.
  3. Keep the colour scheme simple as more than two colours can be too visually busy. Being visually busy contradicts the calming tone you want to create.
  4. Decide where to place the focus area. For example, on the top of a book shelf or in a corner of a table. Maybe even the floor. After choosing the location lay the cloth in a pleasing arrangement. For a small place a place-mat or fabric serviette might be enough. For a bigger space a shawl or pashmina might be a better size. When the fabric is bigger than you need, then fold it to the size you want. (An option for a larger space is to drape a second cloth, of a different colour, in a loose circle shape or lengthwise, using what space you have to advantage.)
  5. Place the candle on its stand/saucer/dish. Then put the candle within the boundary created by the first cloth. If you used a second cloth, the candle might be good beside or within it.
  6. Find a picture, icon, carving, sculpture, etc, that you find inspiring. This is something that connects you to God, that is a window into God, that encourages you in some way. It is something that will support your intention to pray. Place the item on the fabric, where it pleases you. If you have another feature, for example, flowers or a “found” object, also place it elsewhere on the fabric. Take care not to over crowd the visual focus area. Other objects may be added or changed over time.
  7. Ensure you know where matches are and light the candle before you begin to pray and extinguish it after you finish. (Some like to make lighting the candle a part of opening and closing their prayer session!)

Gathering Up the Pieces

Above I have listed the steps to making a prayer place at home.

  • Firstly, look for a safe place that offers you as much privacy as you need.
  • Secondly, find a comfortably place, which involves temperature and posture.
  • Thirdly, create a visual focus area to set the space apart for sacred use.
How to make a soothing place to pray at homey

In Step 2 of “Creating a Sacred Space” the colour scheme chosen was blue so a few components were gathered. Step 4 displays the cloth base. Then step 5 adds the candle. Step 6 adds items of interest to complete the visual focus area. This helps to intentionally set apart the space for prayer.

Where will you make your soothing prayer place at home?

Hopefully reading the steps has got your creative juices flowing. Maybe you have a location in mind already. If not, as you walk around your house and garden, wonder about the suitability of various spots. Yes, I said the garden! Last week I heard about a prayer place being set up outside. The person lives in the country so made the prayer space in a paddock! She had a large slab of stone and placed it on two stumps of wood. Her chosen symbolic items were placed on the stone. The ‘chair’ was a thick plank of wood also set across two stumps. Sometimes her prayer is shared with the goats!

Private and comfortable sacred space in a paddock, with an inspiring view.

A Small Exercise in Trust

Making a soothing place to pray at home is a small exercise in trusting the provision of God. Re-purpose items and materials that you already have in the house. God desires to enjoy your company so listen attentively and imaginatively to how materials might be used for this purpose. Forget about hurry. Preparing your prayer place will emerge as it needs to. Enjoy!

Maybe you already have a prayer place established, in which case where did you choose to put it and what items did you display? How does your prayer place support your desire to pray?

Wondering how you might pray at home?  Or wanting to explore other aspects of your inner life?  Contact me today to book your free 20 minute spiritual direction phone conversation. Together we can explore what spiritual direction could offer you.