How to Build a Prayer Altar

by Katherine Harrington

Building a prayer altar is a deeply spiritual and personal experience. Whether you practice a form of organized religion or you are simply a spiritual person, a prayer altar can be a meaningful way to pay worship to a respected spiritual figure or seek inner peace. You may also chose to create an altar to commemorate the passing of a loved one. Whatever your reason may be, you can create a prayer altar to provide a peaceful and sacred space for yourself.

The outdoors can be a peaceful and spiritual location for your altar.

Find a quiet and peaceful location to place a shelf or ledge for your altar. You may choose a central location in your house, or if you may prefer it to be private. You could also choose to set up your altar outside, in your backyard or garden.

Your photographs should contain spirtual images that have meaning to you.

Choose photographs to place in your altar. Depending on the purpose of the altar, you may choose photographs of a person that you are remembering or those of a spiritual leader. Feel free to choose several photos of different people that have meaning to you. Photographs allow you to focus your thoughts and prayers by providing inspiration.

The objects you place at your altar can include figuines, jewelry or religious items.

Arrange flowers, fresh or dried, and meaningful trinkets around your photographs. You can find objects that have religious significance such as talismans, Rosaries or figurines that have meaning to you. If your altar is built to honor a specific person, you may choose to use some of their personal items that are connected to special memories.

Candles can deepen a spritual experience by relaxing the body and mind.

Display candles and incense at your altar to heighten your spiritual experience. Candles in a dark or dimly lit room will create an elegant and dramatic effect that will allow you to open up your mind for deeper prayer. Incense will also elevate your senses while you are in prayer. Make sure that the scent is subtle and does not conflict with the smell of the candles or flowers. Earthy scents like patchouli or sandalwood can be very relaxing and pleasant.

Make sure that you are comfortable with your altar both physically and emotionally. Place pillows on the ground to sit on while you meditate or pray. Make sure that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Also, make sure that your altar reflects you, and has personal significance. There is no right or wrong way to design your altar, as long as you are comfortable and at peace when you are using it.

Items you will need

  • Shelf or ledge
  • Photographs
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Incense
  • Hand-written prayers
  • Meaningful trinkets or jewelry

About the Author

Katherine Harrington received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University, where she was a senior producer for the "Golden Gate [X]press." She currently works in public policy mediation and facilitation. Harrington has been writing, professionally since 2008, specializing in culture, art, fashion and food.

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images