Prayer Shawl Ministry

Prayer Shawl Ministry

 About prayer shawls and lap robes:

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 maker

Prayer Shawl Meeting

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.

Knitting and Crocheting together

As a maker, you focus on the moment. When you concentrate on the present, you open yourself to a fresh source of energy. Both prayer and craft combine to draw you out of your worries and into your deeper self.

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.

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, Rev. Rev. Barry King 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, Elizabeth 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.

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.

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 Basic Knit Prayer Shawl

From 1998 – Written & Developed By Victoria Galo and Janet Bristow © 2006 All rights reserved.

• Knitting Needle size 11 or 13
• Amount of yarn needed: 555 yards in the yarn of your choice.
• Cast on stitches in multiples of three – 54, 57, or 60. For example, if you use size 11 needles and cast on 54 stitches, 3 skeins of yarn is enough. Some yarns vary in elasticity which will affect your outcome, as will your knitting tension. If the yarn you have chosen has a multicolored stripe, be careful when tying on a new skein. Make sure the color sequence is correct. Also, tie on the new skein in the body of the shawl, instead of an edge, as the ends tend to show.
• First Row: k3, p3, to end
• Second Row: Always start the next row with the opposite stitch of what you see. For instance, if the first stitch on the needle is a knit, then start with a purl.
• Knit the purls and purl the knits! It should NOT look like ribbing.
• If you cast on 57 stitches you will always start with K3.
• Knit until the piece measures from wrist to wrist, approximately 57 – 58” long.
• Bind off with a knit row, Add fringe if desired.

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; leading ritual; first menses or croning rites of passage, during 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.

“You created every part of me, knitting me in my Mother’s womb.
For such handiwork, I praise you. Awesome this great wonder!”

Psalm 139:13-14

Contact: Sydenham Street United Church 613- 542-9616 or Sue Doerksen,

613-766-3254  – Print Brochure

Our Favourite Links

Prayer Shawl Ministry Home Page. Celebrating over 15 years in 2014! “Shawls … made for centuries universal and embracing,. symbolic of an inclusive, …

Prayer Shawl Instructions – ‎Prayers – ‎Tip Sheet – ‎Photo Gallery

Shawl Patterns on Ravelry – Lots of great ideas and free patterns

Prayer Shawl Ministry on Pinterest
Explore UMC Fayetteville NY’s hand-picked collection of Pins about Prayer Shawl Ministry on Pinterest. | See more about shawl, shawl patterns and crochet shawl.

Prayer Shawl / Healing Shawl – Lion Brand Yarn
Lion Brand® Homespun ® Pattern #: 20281-K: What is a Prayer Shawl? Throughout the ages, shawls have come to symbolize shelter, peace and spiritual sustenance.

Prayer Shawl / Healing Shawl – Lion Brand Yarn
Lion Brand® Homespun ® Pattern #: 20281-K: What is a Prayer Shawl? Throughout the ages, shawls have come to symbolize shelter, peace and spiritual sustenance.