I came to a new church and didn’t know anyone, and then something life-changing, life-threatening happened. About three months after we coming to St. John the Divine I was diagnosed with Stage II aggressive breast cancer.
I was attending the 11:00 am Contemporary Service and every week we were encouraged to go and request prayer from the intercessors on the sides of the room. I was never embarrassed to go up after communion and ask for prayer. It was beautiful, because each time the people would ask permission to put their hands on me. I always felt so cared for when they did that. They would pray against the cancer, and for my children, and for my courage and faith. It became a regular part of my Sunday worship to go up to an intercessor for prayer. I would get notes in the mail from the prayer team that they were praying for me. It was so kind that they would take the time not only to pray for me, but to let me know that they were praying for me.
About two months into this, one of the intercessors found me in Sumners Hall and said, “We have something for you!” I did not know his name, and I don’t think he remembered my name, but we knew each other because he had been praying for me so faithfully. He guided me into the contemporary service where a woman I did not know handed me the most lovely, beautifully hand-knit prayer shawl. It came with a multitude of readings on prayer shawls and a note from the team who made it. I was prayed for as the shawl was being knit and the shawl was prayed over before it was given to me. I was to wear it and to seek strength from it, knowing that it girds me in strength and prayer.
People whom I didn’t know, who didn’t know me, knew my need and chose to address that need by praying, which I know is the strongest thing that one can do. They were praying for me faithfully not only in the service, but during the week with the prayer team. Then they put that faith into action and used their hands, the hands of Christ, to create something so personal for me that is a constant reminder that I am known, not just by this church, but by the Father, and I am cared for through the Holy Spirit through the handiwork of these people in this ministry. It was incredibly humbling, and frankly shocking, that someone would do that for someone they didn’t know by name, but knew by need. I think that in the midst of a storm, we can forget that God is in the storm, and God knew about the storm, and God is carrying you through the storm. To have a physical reminder of that from the hands of a believer is very affirming and needed.
UPDATE: On May 19th, Carrie had surgry at MD Anderson Cancer Center. The pathology report revealed "no evidence in disease" in either the tissue or the nodes. She's grateful for the intercessory prayers she received in the 11:00 am contemporary services, the 9:00 am services during Lent, and the 5:00 pm chapel services each Sunday throughout her six months of treatment. She especially cherished her hospital visit from Doug Richnow.
To request a prayer shawl, or if you are interested in joining the prayer shawl ministry, contact Marguerite Radhakrishnan, firstname.lastname@example.org.