Prayer Resource : Labyrinths

This content relates to anewloom.

You can download this resource as a PDF to enable you to print the sections you require.

This download includes printable pages that will help you to design or lay out your own labyrinth. There are also printable finger labyrinths.

Introduction

In this series of ‘Prayer Resources’, a theme is taken and explored so that diverse groups of people can engage with it by choosing the elements they need, are comfortable with or that fit their context.

Below is a range of material that you can choose from, you are encouraged to read through it all so you have a good understanding of the theme.

Some of the material is designed to be printed out on A3 paper. Please adjust the paper size as necessary to your context.

Resources from pilgrimpaths.co.uk are used with permission and are also available for free from the website.

Types of labyrinth

Walkable

These labyrinths can be printed on fabric or set up with string, wool, stones, tea lights or other material. They are big enough for people to physically walk around the path. Instructions on how to lay out a labyrinth like this are included in this set of resources.

Finger Labyrinth

At the end of this set of resources are some printable labyrinths. The idea is to use your index finger to follow the path in the same way as you would walk a larger version – slowly and with intent. It is suggested when using a ‘finger labyrinth’ that you use your non-writing hand as it makes the brain focus more on the task.

Images

If your participants are unable to use either of the above types of labyrinth (or if you have a large group and little space), they may like to have an image of one they can follow with their eyes. They can still partake in the three sections of the journey, it’s just less tactile. Some royalty free images of labyrinths are included in this resource pack.

Narrative ‘the slow path’

We live in a fast paced, everything now world. Everything is instant, we sound proud about being busy, we know what everyone is doing every minute of the day down to looking at photos of their dinner on facebook. Everything is about being as efficient as possible but we need to be human not be efficient. Something needs to change.

I’d like to share a vision of the future with you – not one of those utopian futures that so many dream of, not even a dystopian future portrayed in so many films but a future that is grounded in a change we can each make today – to choose the slow path.

I would like to suggest that we have a slow God. The God of the covenant relationship who walks for forty years in the wilderness with his people, speaks through the ox-cart history of the 3 generations of the united monarchy, twenty kings of Judah, 19 kings of Israel, exile, restoration and so on…

I wonder if we might reflect for a moment on the image of Jesus on the Cross – perhaps the ultimate symbol of slowing down – to complete immobility in the presence of his father in Heaven. If we are going to be Christ like then, perhaps we need to choose the slower journey – to be purposefully inefficient in the face of post-secular culture, to engage with meditation, breathing exercises or other methods of decelerating our lives so we can be more present to those around us, to God’s voice and to our own hearts…

It’s hard to focus in our technologically immediate world – we are always plugged in, being bombarded with music or advertising. And the cultural change we’re in the middle of right now is just the latest in a series for the church which happen every 500 years. The one before this was the reformation, before that the great schism in 1054, before that the rise and fall of the roman empire and before that the birth of Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, there are one group of people who have seen all of those changes through since the year 500. Around that time St. Benedict wrote his rule and Monastic communities have developed ever since as a model of steadfast spirituality. Monastic communities have always known about the slow path – they’ve always made the choice to walk the slow path. Monastic rhythms of life and contemplative spirituality make you slow down and focus on how you are walking the journey of faith.

One example of a monastic way to pray, a way to slow down and focus on your spiritual journey is to walk a labyrinth.

Labyrinth history

Labyrinths have been around for 4000 years.

There’s a labyrinth carved petroglyph from around 2000 BC in Spain.

In Italy we find a labyrinth carved inside a tomb from around 850BC.

There is a Greek coin from 300 AD with a labyrinth on it.

We see different designs around the world – Africa around 300 AD is the first known Christian labyrinth, France in the 10th century, we see a Cistercian labyrinth in a monastery 300 years before the famous one in Chartres Cathedral. We see them appearing in Russia and New Mexico in the 11th century, Hindus were using them in the 12th and 13th century, The floor in Amiens Cathedral which was designed in 1288 – we see them in Scandinavia and the first grass example in Essex, UK in 1699.

This form of prayer has a long tradition. 

Scriptures

Walk humbly with your God

Micah, Chapter 6, verse 8

And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.”

Judges, Chapter 18, verse 5

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms, Chapter 119, verse 105

Walking a labyrinth

Walking a labyrinth is like making a pilgrimage…

It is a journey where you might pray about yourself on the way in, be open to the grace and love of God at the centre and return praying for others.

Labyrinths are ancient spiritual pathways found across the world and embraced in Medieval times and since as a support for prayer. Today, labyrinths are again being created to offer a spiritual space for prayer and reflection providing a stilling space in a busy world.

A labyrinth is different from a maze. A maze is full of dead-ends and tricks. A labyrinth has only one path that always leads to the centre…

you cannot get lost…

just stay on the path…

There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, no set pace, just follow the path in your own time…

There’s many ways to pray, meditate or reflect while you walk a labyrinth but there’s generally 3 parts to the journey…

3 part journey

Release – take a deep breath and begin your walk to the centre – this is journey to calm down, get focused and centre yourself. Let go of stress and expectations.

Receive – in the centre is a sacred space to gain something from your walk, from your heart, from God…

Return – as you walk the path back out, you begin to transition back into the world with your new knowledge and peace. 

Explaining the process

On the Way In

When you are ready, walk into the labyrinth. This is a time to look inward, to pray for yourself – to bring your worries, burdens or anxieties to God. You can ask for help, say thank you or ask for forgiveness. Jesus is with you every step of the way; you are never alone. You are always loved by God.

In the Centre

Consider your thoughts

Stay in the centre for a while and spend some time in prayer receiving God’s love and blessing.

When you are ready, return along the same path…

On the Way Out

This is an opportunity to look outward and pray for your family and friends, your local community, country or homeland. You might like to pray for leaders or people you work with, people who are ill or don’t have what they need.

Prayer before exploring

Lord of all our days, give us eyes to see as you see, give us the perspective of eternity, teach us contentment, with the hours you have given us.

Help us to live well, to honour the days and the seasons. To know the time to build and the time to tear down, the time to mourn and the time to dance, the time for everything under heaven.

God, when our busyness overtakes us, When we are out of step and overwhelmed, Give us the grace to choose the slow path to know when enough is enough, enough to appreciate what we have, enough to see the needs of others.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom and find life. Amen.

Prayers to use while you walk

1.

Lord, when everything trembles

Give me a firm foundation;   

Faith founded on facts                              

Prayers founded on your presence                

Life founded on your love                           

Peace founded on your power

2.

Lord, today brings;

Paths to discover, Possibilities to choose,

People to encounter, Peace to possess,

Promises to fulfil, Perplexities to ponder,

Power to strengthen, Pointers to guide,

Pardon to accept, Praises to sing…

Guide my feet as I continue my journey

3.

God, Sometimes I don’t feel like talking about what’s wrong. I just want to be mad or sad or frustrated. Sometimes, things feel too big for me to figure out and life seems really unfair. You are the only One who knows everything about me. Please teach me how to take what I feel and give it to You to sort out. Amen.

4.

Circle me O God                     

Keep peace within        

Keep turmoil out.                   

Circle me O God

Keep hope within

Keep Despair out.

Circle me O God           

Keep calm within           

Keep storms out.                    

Circle me O God

Keep strength within

Keep weakness out.

(David Adams)

5.

Come and hold me Lord

Hold me secure

Hold me strong

Hold me forever

In Your everlasting arms

Amen

6.

God, Thank You that you bless us with family and friends all around us. Thank You for giving us people to talk to and laugh with. Please help me to be a good friend to others and spread Jesus’ love. Amen.

Quote

” You enter a maze to lose yourself and a Labyrinth to find yourself. “

Dr. Sharron Stroud