Home Altar Project

Your Home Altar could be an area that’s set up all the time, or it could be a tray that you bring out when it’s time for prayer. For example, if the place your household naturally gathers is your dining table, maybe your prayer station can live on a tray nearby so it can come out easily when needed.

In July of 2020 we prepared Home Altar Kit boxes to share within our congregation, especially for those practicing faith at home with kids – but for others too! Here’s what was in the box…

  1. Prayer candle kit. Use diluted glue to apply colored tissue paper (cut or torn) to the tall glass candle. Let it dry and you have a lovely, long-lasting candle! Always remember to blow it out when you are finished.
  2. Some prayer cards you might find useful, including some of our summer Prayers of the Week.
  3. A summer Compline sheet & an Examen card, some simple prayer resources you may have seen before.
  4. A bowl for water and some glass gems to make it fancy. (Feel free to use a nicer bowl if you have one!) Water is a symbol of the holy in many ways. You might enjoy keeping a little water in a bowl. You can dip your fingers and trace a cross on your forehead whenever you come to your prayer place. (Refresh the water now and then so it doesn’t get peculiar!)
  5. A wool heart as a sign of love.
  6. A wooden peg doll you could decorate as a holy person you honor.
  7. An image of Dunstan at the feet of Christ (from the medieval Glastonbury Classbook), in case you’d like our parish’s resourceful, cantankerous, faithful patron saint to be part of your prayer space.
  8. A few prayer beads on a string. Some people find that something tactile helps them stay present in prayer. You could make each of these beads represent a person or situation that you want to pray for regularly, and hold the beads when you pray. There are LOTS of ways to pray with beads – Google it! And of course you can add more beads.


I bet you have some of these around, if you look around your house! 

  1. A textile that you think is beautiful or that reminds you of special times, people or places. Maybe this can go under the other things. 
  2. Something to mark when you’re using the space – like the prayer candle or bowl of water, but there could be other things too. You might burn incense or play music or ring a bell. 
  3. Symbols of the holy, like a cross, a dove or bird figurine, or other things. (I have an iron walrus that belonged to my grandfather that feels holy to me.) It’s easy to make a simple wooden cross with some sticks and twine. 
  4. Something from nature – flowers (fresh or dry), special rocks, a particularly lovely shell or bit of driftwood… 
  5. Something to use as a symbol for placing things in God’s hands – which we need to do sometimes! It could be as simple as an envelope or matchbox (perhaps decorated?),  and a pencil and slips of paper nearby. 
  6. You might also want to keep an index card or pretty, small notebook in which to keep a list of people or situations you want to hold up to God often. (Remember, you don’t have to pray through your whole list every time you sit down! Don’t let praying for others become a burden. Know that even writing down the name is holding that person in love.)
  7. A comfortable way to be there – chairs, cushions, whatever.  
  8. If you are able to enjoy potted plants without being anxious about killing them, maybe a small plant, as a reminder of life and rootedness. 
  9. Things that remind you of Holy Ones and Beloved Ancestors – people who shone God’s light and lived God’s love in the past, whom you want to feel near you when you pray.  You might have mementoes or gifts that make you think of beloved family members who have gone on before. You might have icons or cards with pictures of saints you treasure. 

If you are looking for saint images, here are some sources and ideas! 

1. Trinity Stores sells icons of a WIDE range of saints, and you can buy them very cheaply as prayer cards or greeting cards: https://www.trinitystores.com/ 

2.  An artist on Etsy who makes lively modern images of saints – prints are around $20: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GracieMorbitzer

3. For younger kids, here are some really charming plastic saint dolls: https://shininglightdolls.com/collections/dolls

4. If you can’t find an icon of the holy person you want to honor, you can just find an image you like online, print it out, and decorate it. It could be as simple as mounting it on cardstock; you could add a border with colored pencils; you could glue it to a piece of wood & add some gold paint; … there are so many possibilities! 

6205 University Ave., Madison WI

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church