Prayer Shawl Ministry
About prayer shawls and lap robes
Research shows that doing a repetitive and rhythmic action with your hands such as knitting and crochet has psychological benefits. You have less stress and experience a sense of calm while doing crafts. Combine this action with the contemplative practice of prayer and you have a powerful way to bring body, mind and spirit together.
Prayer Shawls and Robes have been made for centuries; they are universal and embracing: they comfort and enfold; wrap and warm; mother and hug; shelter and embrace. Those who knit and receive shawls and robes are blessed. People knit/crochet shawls and lap robes for many reasons. Most prayer shawl ministries knit/crochet shawls and robes to console those who are grieving, comfort those who are ill, and bring hope to those in despair. They may also be knit/crocheted to celebrate life and its milestones. The reasons to knit/crochet a shawl or lap robe are as numerous as the people who knit/crochet them.
Prayer shawls heal the receiver
As a receiver, you have a healing item to wrap around you. With a gentle weight and cozy curl around your shoulders, you can rest secure in the knowledge that someone took time to make a gift for you. All the prayers, thoughts and hopes that went into the stitches surround you. A prayer shawl around you allows you to feel safe and valued. You can always have a hug from your friend even if she’s not there. You can put on the prayer shawl when you meditate, want to feel inspiration or need a reminder that you’re loved.
Symbolism in the Prayer Shawl
The repeating pattern of three in the prayer shawl patterns is representative of the Christian Trinity (Creator-Christ-Spirit) and is also an important number in many other faiths, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism; and in many cultures, including Chinese and Egyptian.
Sydenham Street Shawl Ministry
Three or four times each year a “Small Group” gathers at noon at the Sydenham Street United Church. We each bring our lunch and a shawl in progress. The gathering begins with a prayer or other reflective reading and over a cup of tea members share their work and their stories.
There is no limit to the colour, style and weight of prayer shawls. The first patterns associated with Prayer Shawl Ministries focused on the Trinity—Knit 3, Purl 3, for one or three rows, followed by Purl 3, Knit 3 for the next one or three rows. Others are inspired by other numbers of significance in Christian faith and practice.This prayer shall group replicates the literally thousands of others found at churches, hospitals and other locations across Canada and beyond. There are inspired by faith and charity, they bring comfort, and sometimes joy, to the recipients, connecting the creator and recipient in a warm community of care.
The art of creating a shawl is prayerful, whether as a solitary pursuit or at our communal gatherings. Wrapping wool around a needle or pulling it through a loop often quiets the mind and engages each of us in thoughts central to our being.
In less than five years, our group has contributed over 100 prayer shawls and 60 pocket prayer squares to our “Prayer Shawl Ministry.” All have been displayed and dedicated during worship and are set aside for the minister, to give to someone, anyone, who is experiencing challenge or change in their lives. Each child baptized in church also receives one. On pastoral visits, the minister will often leave one with someone who is ill or experiencing a significant loss. Special guests may be presented with a shawl as a token of appreciation.
Some Uses for the shawl
Undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss, during bereavement, prayer or meditation, commitment or marriage ceremonies, birthing, nursing a baby; as a bridal shower gift, enduring an illness and recovery; ministering to others or just socializing…There are endless possibilities!
To make a shawl personal, the giver or the recipient may want to adorn the shawl with beads, shells, feathers and charms. A blessing or ritual maybe offered when the gift is presented.
CONTACT: SYDENHAM STREET UNITED CHURCH 613- 542-9616 or
SUE DOERKSEN, or 613-766-3254
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“You created every part of me, knitting me in my Mother’s womb.For such handiwork, I praise you. Awesome this great wonder!”
updated 2021 11 10