Prayer Shawl Ministry

Originally published Sunday, August 2, 2015

When my church announced that a prayer shawl ministry was being started I remember thinking, “how hokey, no one is going to want to have one”.  Several months later one Sunday morning the steps to the altar were draped with many prayer shawls of different colors and patterns; I became a convinced believer that morning.  Before our pastor led us in a prayer of blessing on the shawls our pastor shared that a few shawls had been taken to the local military hospital that was receiving many wounded soldiers at that time.  The person at the hospital had looked at them and then glanced around and asked if that was all we had to donate as they had people asking for them all the time.  The person delivering the shawls was told that the hospital would take all our church could make!

So, what is the idea behind a prayer shawl?  Here’s a quick summary: As the shawl is constructed the maker will begin work with a prayer of blessing and then pray for the unknown recipient.  When completed the shawl will be blessed again by the group of people involved in the ministry.  The shawl is then given to someone in need of comfort with the idea that when they wrap the soft shawl around their shoulders they will feel comfort and solace.

In January I talked to the lady that coordinates the ministry and she explained the process.  There is no set pattern, but they use a size of 24″ x 72″ and soft acrylic yarns.  I had a hard time getting going on a pattern.  I pulled some off the internet and tried adapting a crocheted afghan pattern, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results.  When I went to the first meeting I asked about the pattern that most of them appeared to have been made with; a dear lady explained that you just knit.  Yes, just knit!  How easy! Many groups use patterns that use a grouping of 3 stitches to represent the Trinity and as you knit each stitch you remember Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

At the meeting everyone brings finished shawls and shawls that are in progress (we knit while we talk business).  There are always skeins of yarn that have either been donated or bought with donated funds as well as needles and hooks, so you don’t have to buy anything.  At the first meeting when they realized I was struggling one of the ladies handed me two pairs of needles and explained that they were a good size that I would find easy to use.  I also picked up two skeins of light blue yarn even though I had an ample supply of yarn at home – the blue just called to me.  While working on it I’ve delighted in its softness and often as I spread it across my legs to work I felt a sense of peace come over me (trust me, I needed it!).

I’ve got two in process at this time and alternate working on them with other projects

I’ve been in several groups where a member was sick, facing surgery, or in need of comfort. We would all gather around the shawl to be presented and touch it or each other’s shoulders and then offer a prayer of comfort for that member. Many souls lifting up prayer is a moving experience. I’ve heard so many recipients (and sometimes their family members) say that the shawl brought them so much comfort and strength. Making one is easy, it is something I enjoy doing, but it is also a blessing for me because it makes me take time to sit down, quiet my thoughts and offer a prayer.  I think it is one of things where the receiver and the maker are blessed!

A Shawl Maker’s Prayer 

© 2015 All rights reserved – By Diane Burgess

Dear Lord; Bless my hands as I knit today.  May each

twist of the yarn guide me to create a pattern of love and

comfort in my work and remind me of Your ultimate protection.

Wrap me in Your spirit so that I will be more caring towards

those in need.

Grant me patience as I create this shawl.  And bless

my handiwork as it travels to bring comfort and peace

to someone in need of Your warming embrace.  Amen.

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