The ministry of prayer shawls

I received a fantastic book for Christmas titled "The Prayer Shawl Ministry: Reaching Those in Need." It is published by Leisure Arts. The 44-page book is a how-to on Prayer Shawls. Inside its pages are inspiring stories about people who are involved in Prayer Shawl groups, and letters from those who use Lion Brand Homespun Yarn. There are several pages of prayers that can be used while blessing the shawls, prayers to saw while working on a shawl as well as for the distressed, for those who mourn, for those with a new baby, for graduates and for newlyweds. There are tips on how to choose colors for your projects. And finally, there are 8 prayer shawl patterns, four crochet and four knit.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Yes, it's published to promote Lion Brand Homespun yarn, but let's be honest, Homespun is a great yarn for this sort of work. It's soft, and comes in some great colors. So, I don't mind the promotion.

And yes, while it is geared towards the ministry of prayer shawls, I find pieces throughout the book that apply to everything that we're creating here at Team Yarn, the afghans, the scarves, the shawls, and the hats.

Here's a bit from the introduction:

Over the centuries, shawls have come to symbolize shelter, peace, and spiritual sustenance. Since the inception of The Prayer Shawl Ministry in 1998, the members of this ecumenical organization have lovingly donated their time and talents by creating hand-knitted and crocheted shawls for those in need. What started as grass-roots movement has quickly grown into an international cause, with countless numbers of shawls being given to grateful recipients across the globe.

The ministry's message of caring is simple, universal and enduring. And we have seen time and again that the creation and presentation of a prayer shawl, like all acts of generosity, enriches the giver as well as the recipient.

Isn't that so true? When we create something to give away, whether it is a prayer shawl or a hat, it does enrich our lives.


I appreciate the tips on how to choose yarn colors for projects. Here is a list of traditional meanings for colors:
Red - Energy, strength, power, determination, love, courage
Pink - Joy, friendship, femininity
Brown - Stability, masculinity
Orange - Happiness, success, encouragement, endurance
Gold - Illumination, wisdom
Yellow - Cheerfulness, energy, joy, confidence
Green - Healing, harmony, safety, hope, protection, peace
Blue - Stability, trust, loyalty, faith, truth, tranquility
Purple - Wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery
White - Goodness, purity, innocence, faith, safety, light

For more on colors, check out this list of Awareness Ribbons and what each color stands for:


God of all comfort, we commend to thy mercy all those upon whom any cross or tribulation is laid; all persons oppressed with poverty, sickness, or any infirmity of body or sorrow of mind. We pray for those who desire to be remembered in our prayers, and for any such known only to ourselves, whom we name in our hearts before thee. May it please thee to show them thy fatherly kindness in the midst of affliction, that their hearts may turn unto thee, and receive perfect consolation and healing, and deliverance from their troubles, for Christ's sake, Amen. - John Calvin

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need; we humbly beseech thee to behold, visit, and relieve thy sick servant for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him in thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; and give him patience under his affliction. In thy good time and using all wise means, restore him to healthy, and enable him to lead his life to thy glory; and grant that he may finally dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - Book of Common Worship


O Father of infinite compassion, God of all comfort, reveal yourself as the Light of Life to those who have been brought into the darkness of sorrow. Strengthen the hearts that faint under the heavy burden, and support them in the arms of your infinite love. May they know that in all their distress, you care for them with unfailing tenderness. Wipe away all tears from their eyes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - Book of Church Services

We pray for all who mourn. You know their sorrow. You know and are the comforter of your children. In taking, as in giving, your hand is the hand of a father. May they find peace in you, in the fellowship of your gracious spirit. May the veil be taken away, and a glimpse of the everlasting brightness alight their faces. Sweeten our adversities, and though we go down into the valley of the shadow of death, may we know that you are strengthening our souls, and that all things are working together for good to those who love you. - Rufus Ellis


Here are some excerpt from letters written to Lion Brand that are included in the book that are so inspiring:

- This ministry has been extremely rewarding, knowing we are helping to provide "a hug from God" to those who are in need. Shawl recipients always comment on how soft and warm the yarn is, like God's love for us!

- It is so fulfilling to know that something you made and that you prayed over with each stitch is so appreciated and loved by the recipient. To hear that a shawl is word daily for comfort, for love, for consolation, or to see a brand-new baby wearing a cap made with love, there is nothing more rewarding.

- I have a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. She immediately went into a deep depression. I decided to let her know that her friends were with her every step of the way. I crocheted a throw using Homespun in purple and pink worsted weight - the purple was for friendship and the pink was for love. I used a "V" for victory stitch throughout and, when it came time to put the fringe on, each one of her senior friends knotted a section onto the throw while saying a prayer for her recovery. My friend's entire attitude changed when presented with the throw and she immediately cheered up, knowing, as she said, "that there are friends who care for me." She has finished her chemo, has done well, stayed positive, and her Homespun victory throw buoys her up when she is down. I would never have believed that such a small act of kindness would have made such a difference to anyone. I encourage others to do small acts of love like this. It benefits the giver as much as the recipient.

See more (or write your own) at www/


Learn more about prayer shawls on this web site organized by the two women who gave birth to this ministry:

"Shawls ... made for centuries universal and embracing,
symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God.
They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace,
mother, hug, shelter and beautify.
Those who have received these shawls have been 
uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to 
fly above their troubles..."
  Written in 1998 by: Janet Bristow


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