When I was in college one of my roommates taught me to crochet, but I lacked the motivation to work beyond a thin strip of crocheting - until I learned that one of my friends, who was pregnant, was experiencing contractions too early in her pregnancy and had been admitted to the hospital.
I was away at school and in the middle of exams so I couldn't go visit, and even though I prayed for her and the baby constantly, I wanted to be able to do something.
So I started crocheting a blanket.
I wish I had a picture of that yellow baby blanket... between my lack of experience and my abundance of creativity it ended up looking pretty wonky. It changed patterns several times, and one end was about 2 1/2 inches wider than the other end.
But all my love and prayer was knitted into that blanket, and when the baby was born premature, but ultimately healthy, the gift of that blanket communicated (I hope) what my words could not.
Knitting as Prayer
A few months later I learned to knit, and it turns out I'm much better at knitting than crocheting. In the 10 years that I have been knitting for people I have discovered that knitting (and crocheting) can be a wonderful, tangible way for us to pray for others.
And anyone who has received a hand-knit gift knows wearing that blanket or sweater or pair of socks is like being wrapped in the God's love and the prayers of others.
Many faithful people in local churches have put their love of knitting into action by starting prayer shawl ministries.
What is Prayer Shawl Ministry?
What's a prayer shawl? A prayer shawl can be as thin as a scarf or stole, or as big as a small blanket - it is any knitted garment that can be wrapped around a person to help him or her feel God's loving embrace.
What's a prayer shawl ministry? These ministries are:
One part knitting/crotheting circle, where people get together to work on projects, pray, and chat...
And one part caring ministry. The prayer shawls are blessed and then given to people in need of love and comfort. They remind people that they are loved and being prayed for.
All you need to do is gather a few people who like to knit and crochet, and get started making shawls - there are lots of free patterns online in addition to books about prayer shawls for purchase.
Who should be given a prayer shawl? Prayer shawl recipients include:
- The chronically or terminally ill
- Families of fallen soldiers
- Mothers of newborns or premies
- The homebound
- Those struggling with mental illness
- Caretakers of the sick or elderly
- People going through chemo
- Any person you think might be in need of comfort