Advent traditions are oriented towards a theme of waiting and preparing in hope. The four weeks of Advent spark a sense of eagerness and anticipation. During Advent, your congregation might like to use the idea of a prayer manger as part of your worship and preparations. Each of the four Sundays will allow your congregation to add their prayers to the manger.

Individual households can have a prayer manger in their homes, too. You can create the manger using an old box.

Grow Ministries’ GIFT (Growing in Faith Together) Advent event provides ideas and opportunities to share the Advent rituals and traditions that have been passed down through many generations and make new ones. GIFT Advent is available at

Manger prayer activity

The symbolism of preparing the manger for the coming of Christ is a meaningful Advent activity.

You will need:

A manger
Strips of yellow paper (as hay)

What to do:

  1. Set up an empty manger with a small pile of hay next to it (you will need strips of yellow paper as hay for this – A4 sheets of paper cut into 3cm strips).
  2. Have participants offer prayer petitions by writing their prayers onto a strip of paper. Place these petitions as a piece of hay in the manger.
  3. Leave the manger in an accessible location where people can stop by for ongoing prayers throughout the Advent season, adding a piece of hay each time.

Use this manger and hay as part of your Christmas services.

Be COVID-safe Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, if you are planning to use this idea in a congregational space we suggest you have a container with clean pencils/pens and another to put used pencils/pens. We suggest having an antibacterial handwash bottle for people to use before getting their piece of paper, or have someone with gloves or sterilised hands handing out the strips.

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