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Activity 4: Prayer Flags
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Swaths of solid color fabric
- Permanent markers or fabric paint
Preparation for Activity
- Choose an outdoor spot at your congregation where you can hang prayer flags, and get appropriate permissions.
- Cut or tear cloth into squares, approximately 8 inches square.
- Lay out newspaper to protect work surfaces.
- Set out markers or fabric paint for participants to share.
Description of Activity
Participants make prayer flags.
Explain, in these words or your own:
Tibetan Buddhists have a tradition of writing prayers on pieces of fabric and displaying them outside to flap in the wind. They believe each time the fabric is moved by the air, it is as if the prayer is going out to help the world. Buddhist prayers are usually wishes for peace, compassion, and happiness for all beings.
Invite participants to write or draw prayers or wishes for the world on the squares of cloth, to create their own prayer flags. When everyone is finished (if there is time, participants may make more than one), fold over the top border of each flag and staple the flag to a length of yarn. Staple the squares adjacent to one another, so the flags hang in a row.
Bring the group outside to the location you have chosen. Tie the yarn between trees, posts, or buildings so the flags can flap in the wind. While outside, invite volunteers to point out their flags and describe the prayers they offer.
Return to the indoor space. Invite reflection with questions such as:
- Does it make sense to you that Buddhists would believe the wind can carry prayers?
- Do you think that prayers change anything? If so, what can prayers change? How do they work?
- Unitarian Universalist minister Lon Ray Call once said "Prayer doesn't change things. Prayer changes people, and people change things." Do you think this is true?
Including All Participants
Participants with limited coordination or vision may need help holding down the fabric as they draw or assistance in visual expressing their prayer.