This image started me thinking about labyrinths and their use in prayer life.
Read below to find out more.
During this period of lockdown, have you been struggling to stay focused in your prayer time? I know that I have. On facebook and in a photograph in the Methodist Prayer Handbook, I have become very 'aware' of labryinths and their use in worship. A retired Minister friend of mine calls these 'God incidents' where God is communicating to you through others. So I began to research the use of labyrinths and how to include them in my daily prayers. I hope the following information helps you in some small way.
Labyrinths have been used to help prayer for centuries. They help to still the mind, as you slowly walk to the central point and then back. They are not mazes as you cannot get lost. The point of a labyrinth is to help you to orientate yourself.
The most famous prayer labyrinth today is probably the one in Chartres Cathedral in France.
There are several typical designs: the "classical" design of seven rings, and the "medieval" design of 11 circuits in four quadrants.
The first time that I walked a prayer labryinth was in Ely Cathedral. It was a most calming experience. But how do you walk a labyrinth in a lockdown?
Well in Codsall, South Staffordshire, the Methodist Minister at Trinity Methodist Church has used pebbles to lay one out on the empty carpark, so that as people walk by on their daily exercise during lockdown, they can include it as part of their walk. However, this is not possible for us to do at The Bread Church, as we are in the heart of the city.
HHMMM? What to do to help to focus your prayers during these uncertain times, when it is hard to stop your mind from wandering?
I discovered finger labyrinths. Sometimes these are made of wood, put you can use a paper labyrinth which are downloadable off the internet. When using the labyrinth, it is recommended that you use a finger on the hand you do not write with, so that you are using a different part of your brain.
Slowly, let your thoughts come to the surface as your finger walks to the centre. Pause at the centre and then return. In Miranda Threlfall-Holmes book, The Little Book of Prayer Experiments, she suggests that the first time you use one, you might just simply follow it without saying anything. As your finger walks slowly along the path, notice if you feel frustrated, annoyed or find it fun. Do you feel different as you return along the path?
The next time you use the labyrinth, perhaps you want to think about what "Jesus said about him being a path for us to follow. So on the way in, think or say, ' I am the way, the truth and the life'; and on the way out about the words 'Follow me'." (from p.121 Using a labyrinth chapter of Little Book of Prayer Experiments)
I hope that you find the use of a finger labyrinth helpful to your prayer time.
Peace and grace.
With thanks to Revd. Dr. Miranda Threlfall- Holmes - Team Rector of St Luke in the City, Liverpool - for her kind permission to reference her book and Rev. Dr. Joanne Cox-Darling, Minister of Trinity Methodist Church, Codsall, South Staffordshire for permission to share the photograph of the pebble labyrinth on the church car park.
For more ideas of how to use a labyrinth follow the links below:
There are lots of downloadable printable labyrinths to try.
Methodist Minister, Rachel Parkinson explains about Pilgrimage and Plagues, Labyrinths and Legacies in this short video.
She also contemplates how prayer can take many forms in a video on methodist.org.uk
"Prayer is like being in the flow of a river."
Ely Cathdral Labyrinth which was the first labyrinth that I walked.
Notice how this labyrinth is angular.
For more information follow this link
Originally published in 1989, The New Zealand Prayer Book (created by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa) was re-published in a new version by Harper Collins in 1997. This prayer book was celebrated by clergy and lay people alike for the way it combined the traditional Anglican prayers and forms of worship with the rich earth-based spirituality of the Maori and other Pacific Island cultures. It is eloquent in its wonderful simplicity and diversity, and is worthy addition to anyone’s book of prayers.
An alternate version of the Lord’s Prayer is included within The New Zealand Book of Prayer, which demonstrates the unique character of the New Zealand Anglican Church and the impact that Polynesian culture has had upon it (for example, take note of how God is referred to as both masculine and feminine).
THE LORD’S PRAYER: MAORI & POLYNESIA
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe;
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world;
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings;
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trial too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.