In this post we are going to explore the concept of prayer flags as a reminder to us to pray continually.
Ok, some of you are going to think I’ve gone totally bonkers with this post, but bear with me. I have been fascinated with the idea of prayer flags and this post is about making some prayer flags.
The idea for this post started when I went to visit my brother who lives in El Paso. He took me on a tour of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP); I was fascinated with the unusual style of the buildings. Many of you might feel that this is familiar; like you’ve seen it before. The movie Glory Road was filmed at UTEP, but the school was called was called Texas Western back in the day. It’s a great movie, if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching. But the reason that UTEP is on my mind this week is the unique architectural style of the buildings.
Where is Bhutan?
In 1914, Kathleen Worrell, the wife of the first dean of the State School of Mines and Metallurgy as it was known back then, was looking at the April issue of National Geographic and was captivated by the photo essay by British Diplomat John Claude White depicting many photos of Bhutan. The landscape in Bhutan is very rugged and mountainous. The Bhutanese style of architecture features sloping walls and an overhanging roof. Worrell felt that this type of architecture would fit in perfectly with the rugged landscape in Southwest Texas. El Paso sits at the base of the Franklin Mountains. The original building of the school was destroyed by fire and the new building designed in the Bhutanese style. Now nearly all of the 97 buildings on campus have the Bhutanese style architecture.
In case you cannot picture it, Bhutan is a small country located at the foot of Himalayan Mountains, just a little east of Nepal. It’s the little country in red in the red circle in the map below.
The purpose of prayer flags
Being the design nerd that I am, I was taken with the tiled patterns at the top of many of the buildings. My brother told me there were there to represent the designs on the Tibetan Prayer Flags.
The idea behind a prayer flag is that when you come upon a prayer flag you stop and pray the prayer on that flag. Each color represents an element – earth, wind, fire, water and space. Often each of flags has a wood block symbol and a prayer printed on it.
I thought that this was a great concept of stopping to pray and it felt familiar – hang on, like maybe that biblical – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Pray without ceasing. I thought maybe if we made little reminders to put around our house it would help us pray without ceasing. Or it’s like Deuteronomy 11:18-20:
“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. Teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”
I was thinking of putting prayer on the inside of the door of my kitchen cabinets so every time I reach for a dish, there’s a prayer reminder. Or maybe in my wallet next to my debit card, it has Roman 14:12 – So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. – to help me to remember to be a good steward of the provisions He has given us.
You could hang a verse in a frame on the wall or put it on the mantle, but I am thinking of more opportunities to hide verses around the house to be little surprises when opening a drawer, put your hand in a sweater pocket. I think hiding The Word around the house is an easy way to pray without ceasing.
Ps 119:11 – Thy Word I have hidden in my Heart so I might not sin against Thee.
water colors, brush
black pens – Sharpie pen or Micon Pens will work well for this project.
I took some watercolor paper and taped it down on a board with painters tape, or frog tape. Then I sprayed it lightly with water. I have a small spray bottle I just spritz the paper lightly. I also spritz the watercolor paints to get them to activate.
Then I dabbed some color around and let the colors run and play together. I would recommend that you start out with no more than 3 colors. Choose colors that won’t turn muddy if they run together; an analogous color scheme.
red, orange, yellow
yellow, green, blue
blue, purple, pink
I let the watercolor paper dry thoroughly – several hours and then I remove the tape. You don’t want the tape to set too long or it will tear the paper when you remove it.
Plan out your verse and write it on your card. Get creative. Make your cards in different shapes and hide them around the house.
So leave a comment and let me know what you did with your prayer flags.
Tibetan Prayer Flags – Bilyeu, M, (n.d.) Making Prayer Flags. with-heart-and-hand.com Retrieved – https://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/p/prayer-flags.html
Map of Buhtan – Geoexplorer102blog. (2017.) Welcome and thank you for joining me on this geographical exploration of two amazing countries! Retrieved from: https://nepalandbhutanblog.wordpress.com/
UTEP Campus – UTEP (N.d.). Bhutan Architecture Retrieved from: https://www.utep.edu/bhutan/