ARE YOU SURE I SHOULD give him this blanket?” my husband asked. “How about the one with the Canada geese instead?” He looked incredulously at the prayer blanket material I had selected for a young man he was working with.
Actually, this was the material God had chosen for this young man. This was the fabric He had clearly impressed me to take from the many pre-cut selections in the designated closet at church. Who was I to question His leading? I merely smiled at my husband and gently lifted the yellow fleece covered in dozens of panda bears.
“I guess your friend likes pandas!” I replied with a smile.
He wasn’t as amused as I, but quickly and diligently we, along with our friend Laurie, began lifting up prayers for this hurting soul as
we tied knots along the fringe of the fleece to hold it together. How symbolic: Just as we were hemming the two pieces of fleece together from the prayer-tied knots, God was hemming this individual together from the pain he was going through. What a loving Savior!
BLEST BE THE TIE
Back in the summer of 2018 God impressed me that the prayer team’s yearly budget at our church needed to start reaching more people. And He already had a plan to do it! Norman and Diane Douglas had shown us a prayer quilt a few years prior as a testimony of how God was reaching people through a thriving prayer ministry in Florida. Each quilt was personalized, and the threads that held the batting together were tied into knots as the prayer team prayed for the specific needs of the individual.
When this beautiful concept
was presented to me, I was overwhelmed. It sounded wonderful! But not having experience in quilting, and not knowing anyone in my local church who knew how to quilt, I put the idea on the back burner.
A few years later God brought to the forefront of my mind the prayer quilts. He reminded me that I knew what fleece-tied blankets were. Then He planted the idea in my head that in the same way the threads on the quilts were tied with prayers for the individuals, the fringes of the fleece could be prayer-tied together as well. It was an intriguing challenge that I accepted.
With the blessing of our lead pastor to use the remainder of our prayer team yearly budget, and with the prayer team’s hearty agreement to pilot the prayer blanket ministry for at least two months, we started our journey in faith. We bought our budget’s worth of fleece and said, “Lord, we will do the work, but we will need You to provide. We have used all the money we have!” So little did we know then.
But I can now say with certainty that our dear Lord is faithful. He knows our every need and acts before we even become aware of our need to call upon Him. His promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is clear: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How much healing those within our churches and communities need! God knows how much we hurt with those for whom we are praying. We are His body! And just as one part of the body suffers, every other part suffers with it (see 1 Corinthians 12). What a nearly helpless feeling can come over us when we are acknowledging
this suffering through prayer, but we can be assured that our heavenly Father knows how to ease that suffering! He can push away any doubts the evil one tries to throw in our faces. And the most beautiful thing about 1 Corinthians 12, which tells about being the body of Christ, is the chapter that follows, which inspires us to act and respond in love.
So this is what happened: We started to see the hands of our loving God at work, because He was using us as His hands and feet. We prayed for each individual, asking the Holy Spirit to show us specific things to pray over that person. We prayer-tied each blanket, and as we labored and prayed over each ache and pain, we also experienced the healing that God was starting to do in that person’s life. Instead of feelings of trepidation over the situations these people were in, we started to experience joy for them and the anticipation of what God was going to do for them through the power of His Holy Spirit!
We asked for God’s blessing over these people and were greatly blessed as well. We have not stopped since our humble beginning, and I am overjoyed to share that not once have we lacked a balance in our account to purchase more fleece. God has remained faithful to us! There is no power in any prayer blanket that we have made; however, when a dear soul receives their blanket, there is often a welling up of tears and emotion, an overwhelming acknowledgement that in their specific situation, they are not alone. And often there is a special connection to the color or pattern that makes up their blanket. God has an amazing way of reaching these loved ones!
That’s just what happened with our friend from the beginning of the story. He was a strong young man, covered in tattoos and drinking his way to suicide. He was in a continual mental uproar from a divorce that had ripped his heart apart, and his friends and family were trying to set up an intervention for recovery. My husband had visited him only once, but this young man asked for spiritual guidance.
Could my husband return with a blanket covered in cuddly panda bears? I remembered the verse when Samuel was seeking out the next king of Israel, going from one brother to the next, realizing that none of the strong, fine men he was looking at had been chosen. God told him, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
My husband took the prayer blanket we had prayer-tied with over one hundred Holy-Spirit-guided requests and blessings knotted into the fringes. These prayers had been lifted to God’s throne as we quoted Scriptural promises and prayed for this man. As he pulled the yellow fleece from the gift bag, the young man’s eyes brightened.
“I love pandas!” he exclaimed. “I always have, since I was a boy!” There was an instant connection as he realized that the God of the universe cared for him in such a special way. As he placed the blanket around his shoulders, it was as if God Himself were wrapping His arms around him in love. And when my husband told this young man that each knot represented a prayer that had been lifted up to God on his behalf, the tears began to well up in his eyes. He was not alone.
This touching scene has been played out many, many times in the years since. It is an undeniable fact that this God we serve has a plan and a purpose for each of His dear children! His ceaseless blessings have been demonstrated through this little ministry that has now reached hundreds of people in our church and community, and even around the world. And as for my husband? He will gladly give a blanketful of panda bear prints to a full-grown man, if that is what God wills! Because he knows that these are no ordinary blankets—these are blankets of blessing.