Week Five – March 11 – 17
Praying the Labyrinth is an ancient form of Prayer that can at first glance be easily confused with a maze. The two are very different, in fact they are opposites. In a maze the goal is to find the right path to get to the center and then out again. Along the way there are multiple dead ends and confusing twists and turns. A labyrinth has just one path that leads to the center and one that leads you out. There is no need to worry about getting lost or making a wrong turn during your travels. Prayer labyrinths have been used for centuries to help people focus as they pray and move.
We will practice a finger labyrinth this Lenten season. You can find the finger labyrinth pattern on our pinterest page. This pattern is on the floor in a big Church in France, Chartres Cathedral, and was used by Christians who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land so they took their pilgrimage on the prayer labyrinth. Our own National Cathedral in Washington D.C. uses this same pattern on canvas and they are placed in the Cathedral once a week.
The labyrinth can be used in many ways, but here are some simple ways to get started:
Think of the labyrinth as an invitation you give God to have an active conversation in your heart with Him.
Trace the path with your finger – try not to lift it up. As you make your way ask God to speak to you and listen as your finger traces the path. Notice how your journey make turns it gets closer to the center and then back out, and in. When you reach the middle you might want to pause for a longer prayer or a longer listen. Then trace your way out and continue to notice your path and listen for God. The simple movement of your finger can help you focus and listen and focus and pray to God.
Another way to use this is to imagine you are on a journey walking with Jesus as your finger traces the path. What do you want to say to him? What does He say to you? What will you do in the middle together? What message does Jesus have for you as you finish and exit the path?
Pamela C. Hawkins suggests these three movements as you use the prayer labyrinth:
- Releasing: Put your finger on the opening of the labyrinth and pray a prayer of confession, the things you are sorry for. Then make your way in thinking about your words of letting go of your sins.
- Receiving: When you get to the center read your Psalm for the day. Listen to God’s word and hear what God is saying to you in it today.
- Returning: Leave the center and pray for those who have needs (intercessory prayers). Think about people you know and things in the world that you want to give to God.
Once you finish give God thanks.
You might also wish to trace the path with colored pencils or other coloring material as a way to see your path as your move. This can be linked with your praying in color practice.
I hope you enjoy this way of connecting with God during Lent. When the weather clears up you might even want to design an outdoor path using rock, sticks, or leaves so you can walk a labyrinth with your whole body.
Blessings on the Journey,