The Prayer Shawl


One of the most talked-about chapters in my book is about the gift of prayer shawls, like the one pictured above. In the story, I brought a prayer shawl to a mother whose son came into the hospital for a drug overdose. It meant so much to her that she decided to pay it forward by bringing one to me every year since his death, in his memory.

For those of you who don’t know what a prayer shawl is, it is a beautiful crocheted or knitted shawl created by the prayer shawl ministry group that has become an integral part of many church’s outreach ministry. Several parishes donate shawls to our hospital so we can give them to patients.

These shawls are lovingly crafted by people who sit in a circle and say a prayer with each stitch. When the prayer shawl is worn by the patient, he or she is surrounded with prayers.

I have seen many miracles happen because of these shawls. Some patients get better, all feel comforted by their beauty, softness and grace. Some are still wearing them many years after I gave it to them, still comforted, still surrounded with love. I am inspired by the amazing loving people who have such a passion for this ministry. We chaplains are so blessed to have them.

My Mom was a dedicated prayer shawl knitter. Even at 92, as she was failing, she was working on a shawl when she died. I think of her every time I give one to a patient. It is a little piece of her that continues to be part of my ministry. We are all connected, even after the body leaves. The love we have for each other continues, as do the prayers, and God’s grace. There is an endless supply for us as we walk through this life together.

If you have some talent in knitting or crocheting, please consider this ministry. I have a colleague at work who makes a few at a time and drops them off to me to give to patients. She says it keeps her hands busy and they keep her warm on cold winter nights as they grow in her lap as she works on them. I was able to give one of hers to a patient whose family was having a hard time letting go of their dying father. It brought so much comfort to them, especially because the shawl was knitted in camouflage colors and he was a veteran of WWII. God uses these shawls for just the right person…miracles happen.

May God bless you always!

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