Interested in outdoor worship? Check out our Worship in the Woods book of 10 outdoor gatherings.

I created these prayer stations for the Methodist 3Generate youth conference in November 2016. The challenge was to encourage around 150 young people to engage with Jesus in a worshipful way, outdoors! I created 9 stations, plus some "waiting" activities, but you could easily cut this down and just use some of the ideas. The groups cycled around the stations, but you could have everyone follow the journey together in a smaller group.

To begin with everyone watched a video - available to download here. This tells the story of four people's encounters with Jesus. Later, at the bonfire, they reflected on this using the discussion sheet which you can download from the link on the right.

Each group had an adult leader who could help the young people engage with the station. I gave them the notes before the session so they could be aware of what was coming up. You can download and print these if you like, or just verbally explain the plan to your leaders before the event.

The "waiting" stations were put in places I thought that groups might be waiting to get access to a station. You could also put them in the centre of the space you're using, or save them for another occasion.

The Stations

Station 1: Praise Leaves
Set up: pile of large, dry leaves; marker pens, rolls of cotton thread, a tree people can hang the leaves on.

What is a word you could use to describe Jesus?

Write this word on a leaf, and tie it to the tree with the cotton thread.

When everybody is done, spend a moment reading the words out loud as a group, saying:
"We praise you Jesus because you are [word on leaf]".

Station 2: Adoration
Set up: bottle of inexpensive perfume.

What is your favourite smell? What are some of the smells you can sense outdoors? What smell reminds you of God and why?
When Mary worshipped Jesus, the whole room knew about it because they could all smell it. Her worship was extravagant, because she offered probably the most expensive thing she owned.
Spray some perfume near your group and talk about what it must have been like to have been in that room. (be aware of allergies)

Think for a moment about how you can offer extravagant worship to Jesus - something no one can miss, perhaps even over the top. Think it, or share with the group.

Station 3: Intercession
In our 4 stories, 4 different people meet Jesus, 4 different people with different needs. Do you know someone who desperately needs to meet Jesus? Perhaps someone who is in need of comfort, healing, or help. Find something in nature to represent this person, hold it in your hand as you pray and then leave them, symbolically, in Jesus' love.

Station 4: Darkness
Set up: a tent, a shed, or some other dark place. Electric candles, or real candles properly supervised.

What does darkness make you feel like? Does your inside ever feel dark? Do you think you can meet Jesus in this darkness?
Nicodemus came to Jesus in the nighttime to ask him questions, afraid of what other might think of him.
Nathanael showed the darkness within him by revealing the prejudice against a particular group of people.
Yet, Jesus met them both, and interacted with them.

Spend some time in the dark asking the difficult questions you carry, the 'why' and the 'how' questions, in your heart you might want to offer lament, which is a Biblical term for expressing sorrow. God wants to meet you in that darkness to.
At the end, light the candle to symbolise Jesus' presence in the darkness - not always answering every question immediately, but being present.

Station 5: Fire
Set up: Bonfire (properly supervised). Reflection sheet (download from above/right).

Have a rest by the fire while you use the reflection sheet.

Choose as a group if you use the sheet to kick-start discussion, or if you want to reflect quietly together.

Station 6: Confession
Set up: put this station by a pond, a river, a water feature, or a paddling pool full of water.

Reflect on the water together for a while:
How does water make you think about God?
What does it remind you of?
The Samaritan woman had gone to get water when she met Jesus. Jesus was aware of the problems and sins in her life. In the same way, he knows our hearts. He has promised that if we confess the bad things we have thought and done, he will forgive us.

Spend a moment in silence, confessing to Jesus. Know that Jesus forgives you and wipes the slate clean.
As a symbol of being made clean, dip your hands in the water (if you want to).

End by talking about the 'streams of living water' that Jesus spoke to the woman about. What do you think he meant by that? What would it look like for you to have?

Station 7: Contemplation

This is a 'just being' station. Spend three minutes in silence either looking at or listening to nature. Ask God to speak to you through his creation. Come together and share at the end.

Station 8: Sending

Can you find something around you which would fly easily in the wind?
Perhaps a leaf or a seed capsule?
What doesn't move easily in the wind? Perhaps a stone or a stick?

Jesus wants to meet with you, but like a seed capsule, he also wants to send you out to spread his love.
What do you think God is sending you out to be or do in the place you find yourself?
Hold a seed pod (or something similar) and reflect on this question. Then take turns throwing your thing out while the rest of the group says to you:
"You are sent out to love and serve Jesus!'.

Station 9: Blessing
Set up: enough small sticks so everyone has two. String and scissors.

Make a cross out of sticks and give to someone in the groups and speak this blessing to one another:

Christ be with you
Christ be beside you
Christ be before you
Christ be behind you
Christ be at your right hand
Christ be at your left hand
Christ be with you everywhere you go
Christ be your friend
Forever and ever. Amen.

Waiting stations:

Set up: write "thanks, sorry, please" in marker around the edge of a frisbee.

Throw the frisbee to one another. Whichever field your hand catches the frisbee on - thanks, please or sorry - say a prayer to Jesus using that word.

You can pray out loud or in your heart. You can use many words or just one.

Set up: bubble bottles and wands.

Think about a dream or ambition you have for the future.

Blow a bubble and imagine sending your dream to Jesus, laying it safely in his hands.

The world
Set up: inflatable globe

Throw the globe to one another.

When you have the globe, choose a country to pray for, put your finger on that country and say its name out loud.
The rest of the group can say "Amen".