Walking the

Prayer Labyrinth

Walking the prayer labyrinth is a centuries-old Christian tradition — enacting a kind of spiritual pilgrimage — with each of the twists and turns reminding us that this life is a journey with Jesus that we take step by step, looking to Him and following His lead.

Meeting God at Every Turn

I was first introduced to a prayer labyrinth a few years ago, at a Christian retreat center where I was speaking. They had a labyrinth on the grounds, and encouraged attendees to explore this beautiful, peaceful place for contemplative prayer. I decided to learn more about it… its history and traditions, its place in Christian worship, and how it serves as a metaphor for our spiritual journey. When I got home, I discovered we had one at our church!

As I began walking and praying the labyrinth, God met me there. It became such a profound practice for me, a spiritual discipline that really helped me through many transitions in my own life. I became a “Certified Labyrinth Facilitator” — professionally trained to teach others how to pray the labyrinth and to lead group prayer walks. I even designed a series of labyrinth-themed workshops and retreats as my doctoral project. When I graduated from seminary, my family gifted me with a 36-foot canvas labyrinth so that I could take it to churches and retreat centers that don’t have one.  

I love leading these labyrinth prayer walks. It’s always such a deeply meaningful experience. Some participants share specific insights — spiritual “aha” moments — that come as they walk and pray. Often there are tears, as they find themselves releasing worry or fear, processing grief and pain — or expressing their gratitude to God for all that He has brought them through, trusting Him to lead them step by step through whatever the future holds. And almost everyone says immediately, “I want to do this again!” It’s a powerful way to pray, a powerful way to experience the presence of God. 

The prayer walking we do in the labyrinth is steeped in a thousand years of Christian tradition and firmly grounded in Scripture. Lots of people today use the labyrinth in lots of different ways, but we use it as a place to encounter the Risen Jesus — to walk with Him and talk with Him. And like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we often find our “hearts burning within us” as He meets us there. (Luke 24:13-34) 

What people are saying…

“Christin designed a labyrinth retreat for the women at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke. It was a profound spiritual experience for everyone who participated and many have expressed the desire to encounter the risen Jesus in the practice again. It was VERY impactful and we are looking forward to our next journey under Christin’s gentle direction.”

The Rev. Canon Patricia Orlando

Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, FL

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Christian tradition of praying the labyrinth?

Labyrinths can be found all over the world, going back centuries, and in many different cultures and traditions. The Christian tradition dates back at LEAST a thousand years, to the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. According to scholars, the latest discoveries reveal that this labyrinth was originally designed for Easter services, as a special place for people to meditate on Christ’s journey to the cross, His victory over death, and His resurrection.

There are about a dozen similar labyrinths in cathedrals all around Europe, from about the same time. We don’t know much about how or when or why they were used, but we do know they’re connected to prayer and the idea of spiritual journey or pilgrimage.

Many of these labyrinths include Christian symbols and geometric patterns that contain references to Biblical numbers (such as the three members of the Trinity, the six days of Creation, the twelve tribes / twelve disciples).

How do I walk a labyrinth?

Unlike a maze, a labyrinth isn’t a puzzle to solve — there’s only one path — the SAME path, in and out. There are no dead ends, no decisions to make. You just put one foot in front of the other, until you get to the center. Then — when you’re ready — you walk out the same way. If you’re short on time or just need a little prayer walk, you can follow the path to the center, and then walk out (cutting across the lines). Or you can walk right to the center to begin your prayer time, and follow the path out.

How do I pray in a labyrinth?

Pray any way you want to! Pray however you usually do!

Pray freely and spontaneously or recite a favorite Scripture or Scripture-based prayer.

Ask God a question and listen for His answer.

Think of the walk as having three parts: the journey in, the time in the center (which functions like the altar at church), and the journey out. On the way in, surrender your burdens or confess your sins or present your requests to God. Pause at the center to offer your heart — and everything on it — to Him. On the way out, thank Him and praise Him and count your blessings. Or do it all in reverse.

Like the believers who first used the labyrinth at Chartres, meditate on Christ’s journey to the cross, His victory over death, and His resurrection.

It’s really up to you!

Where can I find a labyrinth?

There are labyrinths all over the world, at churches and retreat centers, community centers, gardens, parks, and hospitals. And they’re usually open to the public. Do an internet search, ask your friends and neighbors, or try using the World Labyrinth Locator (but be sure to verify that the information is current by calling ahead before your visit).

What if I have physical limitations or mobility issues?

You might enjoy using a hand-held labyrinth (also called a finger labyrinth) that you can trace with your finger or with a stylus. You can find wood, ceramic, or cardstock labyrinths for purchase online. There are also smartphone apps and paper printables available.

Events & Retreats

Praying the labyrinth can be the centerpiece of a special event or retreat. Or it can be one of a number of activities available to participants, as part of a larger event or retreat.

I have the joy of facilitating labyrinth walks that take place over a few hours — for instance, on a Saturday morning or a weekday evening. 

I also lead one-day, two-day, and three-day retreats that include devotional speaking / Bible teaching and multiple opportunities for prayer-walking.

Labyrinth events can simply be about prayer, or they can have a special theme — like Lament, Surrender, Thanksgiving, or Seeking God for Direction or Discernment. (So many possibilities!)

Most often I’m invited to facilitate labyrinth walks for…

  • Special Church Events for Lent or Advent
  • Quiet Days
  • Women’s Retreats
  • In-Service / Professional Development / Enrichment / Wellness Days for Christian ministries

For more information, please contact me.

 

LABYRINTH WORKSHOPS AND RETREATS

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What people are saying…

“Christin has such a warm and engaging way of presenting the labyrinth. She took time to answer questions and gave clear, thoughtful guidance. It really was a wonderful experience for everyone in our group.”

Mary Bonner