Labyrinths have been found all over the world, dating from earliest antiquity. Once popular in the Middle Ages, labyrinths have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. They are commonly found in schools, prisons, parks, hospitals, spas, churches and retreat centers. The World Wide Labyrinth Locator, established by The Labyrinth Society, is an online data base that lists of 3,400 labyrinths worldwide.This ancient Church prayer practice is enjoying renewed popularity. Of the original 17 labyrinths constructed during the Middle Ages in the stone floors of the major French Pilgrimage/Gothic Cathedrals, one remains today — in the Cathedral of Chartres.
The world-wide growth in labyrinths has been tremendous. There are 10,000 in churches, hospitals, schools, private gardens, and public parks. Walking prayer benefits both body and soul. The calm movement of ‘walking prayer’ is often very soothing for a thirsting and troubled soul, while lowering the heart beat and blood pressure at the same time. We bring to the labyrinth our prayers of thanksgiving, joy, healing and hurting; we also ‘listen’ for the Holy Spirit. A labyrinth walk can be a ‘Conversation with God’, a meditative spiritual gift.
The labyrinth offers a unique opportunity to build church community and faith friendships through group prayer. In an ‘intentional’ walk, a group prays with a specific focus, recognizing that whenever two or more are gathered in his name, Jesus has promised to be present.