Since the start, I have fallen over backwards to insist there is nothing ‘magic’ about prayer shawls or shapes. And I still say that, but I want to tell you about some strange feedback from a few years ago.
There was a casual conversation at a pastoral care conference with a spiritual director who led Ignatian retreats. She had been trying to find an object to represent ‘the hem of His garment’ for a gospel contemplation on the story of the woman with a haemorrhage (Matthew 9:10).
The request was brought back to the prayer craft group I led. We deliberated, prayed, considered our options and I agreed to make a traditional Jewish Tallit type of shawl. On completion it was passed around the group for prayer and blessing then parcelled up and posted.
A few weeks later – back came this astonishing response:
Dear Loose Threads,
What’s been happening is quite extraordinary …
A friend of mine who’s been going through a bad time in her life has been deeply touched through your prayer shawl. She would not consider herself a Christian, but it seems quite clear to me that God is breaking through into her life through your gift.
On the first occasion when she touched the shawl, she was almost immediately overwhelmed by tears. (I was not praying, or indeed anywhere near her when this happened). As she sobbed, I simply sat with her until the tears had run their course. She then said that as she had handled the shawl she had felt huge power surging through her, which was then followed by the feeling of ‘being enveloped in a warm bubble of love’. Subsequently, every time she has visited she sits close to the shawl (which usually rests over the back of one of my chairs) and continues to speak of the immense power and heat that she feels pouring into her.
There is little doubt in my mind that God is breaking through into her life, and these encounters have opened up questions and conversations about prayer. And none of this is anything to do with me!
Be encouraged … God is using your prayers in mighty ways!
I was startled and perturbed, feeling that this was a little over the top! But the others took me to task, reminding me of Acts 19:
11. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,
12. So that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
When Benedict fled Rome to live in a cave, people became attracted to God through him and there are stories of miracles that took place.
I still don’t believe in magic – but the power of God to heal? Check it out for yourself.