Creating prayer shawls is a spiritual discipline of intercessory prayer.

“Part of creating handmade shawls is the spiritual discipline of intercessory prayer for those who will receive them.” Maggie Hoggard


I have been reflecting on how often I describe myself in terms of what I “used to be” or “used to do.”  I have a rare disease affecting the trigeminal nerves of the face. A few years ago, my neuro-specialist prescribed isolation to help minimize attacks that cause further damage to the myelin covering the nerves.

It has always been vital to me to serve the Lord, so it troubled me that being isolated meant giving up roles and activities that I felt defined me as a Christian. What a surprise (and how gratifying) it was to find that my relationship with God actually deepened!

Part of that growth came from making prayer shawls, a spiritual practice that I am blessed to be able to continue. The practice gives me a humble way to represent the love of Christ to the shawl’s recipient. On days when even a single step will trigger a pain cycle, knitting has brought me great joy in drawing closer to God as I pray over the shawl. I have become more contemplative in my faith, focusing on God’s presence and majesty and taking mindful action where possible.

Part of creating hand-made shawls is the spiritual discipline of intercessory prayer for those who will receive them. Both the shawl maker and the recipient are invited to practice the presence of God, with the prayer shawl serving as a tangible reminder of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


As Susan S. Jorgensen and Susan S. Izard wrote in Knitting Into the Mystery: A Guide to the Shawl-Knitting Ministry, “Out of a single strand of yarn, a flowing fabric emerges that will eventually wrap itself around another’s shoulders and speak love into another’s heart, a visual expression of… the inexpressible mystery that is the steadfast presence [of God] in our lives.”

My understanding of the significance of prayer shawls began when my husband Royce had “routine” surgery in 2006. Medical errors led to multiple infections and complications, five more surgeries, and placement in the ICU under the care of the surgical trauma crisis team. Royce survived his repeated brushes with death, something which even his medical team described as “miraculous.”

The prayer shawls our church’s prayer shawl ministry gave us helped sustain our faith. The shawls were tangible symbols of the love of Christ. Knowing that the Holy Spirit was with us gave Royce the courage to keep fighting for his life – and gave me the strength to respond to his needs and carry on with my other responsibilities.



It was, in fact, during Royce’s extended hospitalization that my sister-in-law taught me how to knit. I gave my first prayer shawl to a young woman I met one night in a darkened waiting room. It turned out that her father was dying, and she was fighting temptation as a recovering addict to turn to drugs to ease her grief and anxiety. In a profound way, the shawl opened the door for us to talk about Christ’s love for her and to pray together for her father and her deliverance.

I was hooked during that moment of mystery in 2006. Since then, I have knitted hundreds of prayer shawls and other items, participating in and even coordinating several missions and outreach projects that have reached thousands.

Shawls can follow any pattern and be knit, crocheted, woven, quilted, or sewn (often with embroidery) using whole cloth. The principles of prayer shawl ministries can be applied to making hats, scarves, twiddle muffs (for children or patients with dementia), or handcrafted toys and clothing.

You do not have to be part of a group to practice the ministry of prayer shawls. Projects can be created independently for people the crafter knows personally or donated to charitable organizations (including Chronic Joy).

It is also unnecessary to be advanced at knitting, crocheting, or sewing. Using basic patterns allows for more focus on intercessory prayer in the presence of God. This message from Colossians 2:2-3 is at the heart of that intercessory prayer:

“This is what I have asked of God for you: that you will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love, and that you will have the rich experience of knowing Christ with real certainty and clear understanding” (Colossians 2:2a).



Dear Lord, we are grateful for Your faithful presence in our lives even when our ability to function has diminished. Thank You for showing us we can draw closer to You in our weakness. Help us trust that You are there to carry our anxieties for us.

We praise You for the joy that comes when we realize pain and isolation can free us from distractions so we can grow closer to You. Forgive us when our fear and resentment separate us from You. Help us to remember that our service to You is to glorify Your name and not to prove our worth. Above all, may we learn to love others as You love us as we rely on the strength and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


  • What experiences have you had with intercessory prayer?
  • Have you received something someone has made for you that came with love and prayers? How did it affect your relationship with God?
  • Creative expression includes drawing, painting, photography, writing, woodworking, beading, cooking, and gardening. How could you use the spiritual principles of blessing/encouraging others and intercessory prayer through these creative gifts?


If you want to learn more about prayer shawls, I invite you to read the Chronic Joy’s Prayer Shawls:  Kindness With Every Stitch resource. Yarn, Craft Arts, and More and Creative Sparks will help you explore additional ways creativity expresses God’s love and draws people closer to Him. 

Happy Bubbles
Margaret A. Hoggard

Margaret A. Hoggard

Maggie believes that creativity has the power to transform us when the Holy Spirit inspires it. A lifelong learner who desires to serve God in all she does, she holds master's degrees in teaching language arts and Christian interdisciplinary studies. After retiring as a college English instructor, she earned certifications in spiritual formation, women’s ministry, and Christian education. Maggie has one son and three grandchildren and lives in Michigan with her husband, Royce. Her interests include crafting, drama, reading, art, music, and walking.

Prayer Shawls • Kindness with Every Stitch

Prayer Shawls

Prayer shawls are blessings of community, kindness, comfort, and compassion, stitched with prayer and gifted to those who are struggling with illness, pain, anxiety, depression, loneliness, loss, or grief – a gift to maker and receiver.


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