Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prayer Room

As I mentioned earlier, the church now has a prayer room. This is a place dedicated to prayer and is designed to help move us away from the busy-ness of the world and spend time talking with God.

Amy, our intern, has been working on this for us, and she has done a wonderful job. In the prayer room there is an altar, candles, a kneeler, devotional books, Bibles, a place to put prayer requests, and a prayer labyrinth to walk.

Today, I thought I would put down some info on the prayer labyrinth, since it is new to this church. Below is a little info on it from Wikipedia.

The prayer labyrinth was adopted by the Church across Europe during the medieval times, being often used as a means to meditate, pray and connect with God in a higher spiritual way. Numerous cathedrals in Europe have prayer labyrinths embedded into their floors, with the Cathedral of Chartres (Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral), located about 80 km from Paris having one of the most famous prayer labyrinths in the world. Prayer labyrinths were often viewed and modeled as a journey to Jerusalem and were even called Chemin de Jerusalem (Road of Jerusalem) serving as a spiritual pilgrimage for those who could not afford to travel to Jerusalem, the center of the world.

The widest accepted prayer labyrinth in the Church was the eleven-circuit labyrinth, which is more symbolic of Christ's cross with its four quadrants, and grace being symbolized by the never-ending path to the center and back, allowing the pilgrim to walk the path at his own pace, stop for prayer and meditation as needed.

By the 17th and 18th centuries however, prayer labyrinths had lost much of their spiritual meaning. Some clergy and other believers now associate them with New Age mystical practices.
With the practice of walking the prayer labyrinth becoming popular again in contemporary Christianity, particularly in the Emerging Church movement, many Christian denominations from across the theological spectrum are again adopting the practice of walking the prayer labyrinth. Some churches opening their labyrinths to any pilgrim in need of contemplation and prayer. It should be noted that the prayer labyrinth is not a maze in the popular sense, and rather has one path on which one cannot get lost, serving a powerful symbol of individual life journeys and pilgrimage in faith.

Walking the labyrinth

A Catholic writer describes their spiritual significance in this way: "The labyrinth is a universal symbol for the world, with its complications and difficulties, which we experience on our journey through life. The entry to the labyrinth is birth; the center is death and eternal life. In Christian terms, the thread that leads us through life is divine grace. Like any pilgrimage, the labyrinth represents the inner pilgrimage we are called to make to take us to the center of our being. In some Christian circles today the labyrinth continues to be used as an instrument to facilitate meditation, prayer, personal reflection, etc.

For example, when walking the Chartres style labyrinth the believer meanders through each of the four quadrants several times before reaching the goal. An expectation is created as to when the center will be reached. At the center is a rosette design which has a rich symbolic value including that of enlightenment.

The best way to understand the prayer labyrinth is to experience it. The prayer room is located in the basement of the church in one of the old Sunday School rooms - the south west corner room.

Tomorrow I will follow up with more on the prayer room.

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