Updated: Apr 7, 2022
By Marilyn Nobori
We were called to serve on November 15, 2009:
“Come check out the new Prayer Shawl Ministry. If you knit, crochet, or want to learn a needlecraft, come join us. All are welcome!
Making a prayer shawl (lap throw or blanket) is a special act of love, a creative method of prayer. The time spent in prayer, combined with the restful, physical act of crocheting, knitting, or sewing, can have a soothing, meditative effect. You may be surprised to find that making a Prayer Shawl blesses not only the person who receives it, but you, the maker, as well!
Thank you for blessing me with the ability to crochet or knit! Thank You for the joy, the peace and the many blessings it brings into my life. This ability is a gift which brings me countless hours of pleasure and enjoyment.
Now Father, I return this gift to You. Please use this talent to serve Your purpose in the world. I pray that You will bless each item I make and fill these items with Your spirit, so that they may become physical expressions of Your love. May they radiate peace, goodwill, comfort and, most of all, Your divine love to the recipients. Amen”
Crafters come to Prayer Shawl Ministry for many reasons. Some come to offer service, to relax, to pray and develop a closer relationship to God. But no matter what the initial reason, they learn that the single strand of yarn weaves relationships of love and care. Thank you notes reach and touch the crafters. But more than that, are the stories of how a project touches lives. One recipient slept with the shawl wrapped around her because it so comforted her. Another recipient, asked that the shawl be cremated with her because it was so cherished. The projects become tangible signs of God’s love shared. One crafter spoke about coming to prayer shawl ministry to relax as she was entering a stressful time in her life. But, what she found was a sense of service and caring expressed in her crocheting, not just the stress relief she was seeking. Another talked about being proud of what she is doing, not in a boastful way, but in a sense of purpose and satisfaction. One crafter spoke of giving a prayer shawl to her cousin as he approached the end of his life. That prayer shawl was an opening for her to start a closer relationship with her cousin’s wife. We come to ministry for a variety of reasons but God transforms that intent. What is returned to us is often unexpected.
With each project is given the following card:
This Prayer Shawl was made for you. With each stitch is a prayer that God would bless you with His loving touch. May this shawl always be a reminder of how much we care about you and how much you are loved. Centenary Prayer Shawl Ministry
During the first year we distributed 92 prayer shawls and lap throws to congregation members, family and friends. This second year (2010-2011), we distributed 51 projects (35% for bereavement, 30% thinking of you, 16% other, 14% illness, 5% babies. Even during the pandemic we continued—33 projects were distributed.
In our meeting we pray the Crafters’ Responsive Prayer
Leader: O Lord our God, maker of all things, you have blessed with so many gifts especially the ability to knit and crochet. Now we offer the fruits of our labors, the shawls, throws and afghans we have made to you.
All: We dedicate these beautiful projects to your service, trusting that your love will go wherever each item is sent, making it more than just interlocking strands of yarn—making each piece we have created an expression of love.
Leader: There is no way for us to imagine the power and effect an act of love can have on a person’s life, how you can use something as small as a shawl (throw or afghan) to radiate your love from us to the world.
All: May these be used in your service and become blessings for all those who receive them.
Leader: Lord, we know that all we possess comes from your loving hand. Give us grace to honor you with all of our being: draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, enhance our wills, so that we may be wholly yours.
All: Use us as you will, always to your glory and the welfare of your people. Amen
There were approximately 7-20 crafters participating in the ministry over the years. They ranged from novice to very experienced knitters and crocheters. There are many levels of participation to the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Hopefully where ever each person starts, each will continue to grow in their Christian faith through this ministry.
1. The very basic level is producing shawls, lap throws and baby blankets to be given during visitations. Yarns and colors are selected which are soft, warm and comforting. Although each project is made as a special gift, there should be no stress for perfection or comparison—all are made with love and prayer in God’s name.
2. Another level is called the relaxation response. Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard School of Medicine, Mind and Body Institute, found that 20 minutes of a repetitious activity such as knitting, and pushing all thoughts from your mind could lower blood pressure and heart rate in the same way as transcendental meditation. Hence all the projects have at most 2 repetitive patterns to invite this affect.
3. A third level is daily prayer. As one begins to work on the project, a prayer is said. It can be as simple as “Lord bless this project that it may bring comfort and joy into this world” or the longer prayers in the folder and in the prayer book created by KarenFay Ramos-Young.
4. The fourth level would be devotional study. After evoking the relaxation response, Dr. Benson found people were open to learning. A daily devotional (scriptures are also in the initial folder) is encouraged.
5. Another level of participation is actual visitations and delivering the items. A different skill set, but still a vital part of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Here listening skills and being present are key to communicating God’s love.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry continues to offer loving care and continued spiritual growth.
Join Centenary’s email list at https://www.centenarydtla.org/subscribe to learn about the Prayer Shawl Ministry and other opportunities for spiritual growth and mission.
Go to https://youtu.be/zXjkl90SRzI and view the Prayer Shawl Ministry’s video on Centenary’s YouTube site.