Stitched Prayer with Bible

I like stitching! As a textile artist, that’s probably a good job! I earn a living through stitch, but much of my stitched artwork is a form of prayer. Stitch enables me to focus on God’s Word, as I try to work out what God may be teaching me as I stitch. If I create a commission, then my stitches are sewn with prayers for the recipient. On creative quiet days and retreats, I aim to enable others to draw closer to God through stitched prayers. For me, stitches are more than just useful. They are a tool that draws me closer to God.

So, this month, as I stitched the story of Hannah who prayed in anguish for a child, and whom God answered by giving her the desires of her heart, I have contemplated the analogy of stitches and prayers… 

Prayer: Piecing us Together
Stitches are so versatile; such clever little things! Individually they seem so innocuous yet together they can be incredibly strong. They may be small and hidden, preventing fraying at the seams or bold and overt, adorning our clothing. Stitches can hold complicated pieces of fabric together to create a garment or used as sutures to assist healing and save lives.
Like stitches, prayers are amazing; a God-given tool. To a non- believer they may seem innocuous or irrelevant, yet prayers are incredibly powerful. Prayers may be small and hidden, but for many the ongoing use of prayer enables us to be held together in the love of God, as we seek to mend our often-frayed lives and develop relationship with the King of Kings.
Prayers that are bold and overt, may be prayers of grateful thanksgiving, or like Hannah in the temple, prayers of supplication, emboldened by a fierce passion or concern for a situation in our lives, our community or our world. Like stitches, our prayers can help hold complicated pieces of our lives together and create in us patience and understanding. Amazingly, God hears our prayers, answers and through them can also bring healing of our mind, heart and body.

Prayer: Variety for All
Stitches have such diversity. They can be very the humble, straightforward running stitch...or incredibly complex. They can be used by anyone whether it be a sewing novice or an experienced embroiderer. Their names (like the Holbein stitch) can even give insight into history!
Prayers, too, can be so varied…. simple or complex, silent or said, painted or danced, liturgical or free. Our prayers may also be rooted in a historical tradition- Celtic, Benedictine, Jewish, for instance. Prayers can be very simple...two-word arrow prayers, such as “Lord, Help!”, “Praise God!” …or incredibly complex - and they can also be used by anyone at all, anywhere- novice or veteran! 

Prayer: A Powerful Tool
stitched hem and buttonsOne strong stitch alone, with the correct thread, could be practical and useful enough to hold on a button, draw together a wound or be a colourful decorative addition to a beautiful design.
One prayer may be strong enough to change a lifestyle or habit or make someone whole, yet may be vivid enough to encompass liturgy, poetry, music, dance or visual art.

Prayer: Strength Together

Stitches can be small and seemingly insignificant- yet when used together, create endless opportunities to fashion garments, shoes, bags, books, sails, furniture and soft furnishing...
Likewise, our individual prayers may seem small and insignificant yet when combined with others, can be powerful tools to achieve things beyond our understanding. “For when two or three are gathered together…”

Look around you and consider how many things might be held together with tiny unseen stitches that we barely ever consider... and then consider how much stronger our own lives might be if they are bound and stitched together with a rhythm of prayer.

Textile Reflections
IMG 7572 cropped and square etc resized for webThis is the narrative of Hannah, who prays in anguish to the Lord for a child. The silhouetted hands are those of Hannah and God, with the foetus in the centre representing the boy Samuel. There is deliberate ambiguity as to whether God is giving Hannah the child or receiving the child with open arms. This is because in the book of Samuel, both acts of giving are key to the narrative. The centre of the design depicts Samuel, the gift who is at the centre of the story. Around Samuel are 18 little coats of varying sizes, portraying the yearly ritual of Hannah stitching her son a coat to take to the temple when she visited each year. I cannot comprehend how hard it must have been for Hannah to gift her longed for child back to God, when she had waited so long for her firstborn. Yet God acknowledges her sacrifice of dedicating Samuel to God, by blessing her with future sons and daughters and blessing Samuel as priest and prophet of his time. I wonder how brave we might be in dedicating back to God, all that he has gifted us?

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