In a multi-tasking, stressful and just overall busy life, the gentle sound of the beads of my rosary leaving my pocket has become like a church bell calling me to worship. It is the sound that means I am about to step away, away from it all, for a few minutes, and soak in the deep waters of contemplative prayer.
Prayer Beads: An Ancient Practice
With the creation of the Anglican Rosary in the mid-1980s by the Rev. Lynn Bauman, the practice of praying with a set of prayer beads began to spread to denominations outside of Catholicism . If one looks outside of Christianity, one can find the practice of praying or counting prayers with beads or knots strung together, present throughout history in almost every culture. I mention this to highlight that this physical form of prayer seems to be written into our souls.
A Simple Prayer Bead Practice
There are plenty of resources to help guide one through praying with prayer beads, so why create one more? And the answer is simple, I find most prayer practices to be entirely too wordy. As someone that creates various styles of prayer beads or rosaries, I am often asked about how one should begin to develop a practice of prayer using the beads. Here is the simple practice I suggest:
- Hold your rosary in your hand.
- Close your eyes and find the cross or pendant and take a slow intentional breath.
- Begin with some sort of invitation or prayer. “Come Lord Jesus”, “God calm my soul”, “All shall be well” or the Lord’s Prayer are all examples of how one might start. The words are not as important as the intent, you are setting your intention for this time of prayer.
- Take the rosary in one or two hands, simply hold each bead in your hand and take a long, deep, intentional breath and let it out slowly.
- And then move to the next bead.
- Let everything else fall away and allow the prayer beads to function as a sort of engine of calmness that comes over your soul.
- If using a rosary or prayer beads with decade or cruciform beads (the larger beads that separate the sections), you may find it useful to return to the invitation that began the prayer time or simply treat it as another bead with an intentional breath and continue.
- Continue around the rosary as many times as needed.
It is helpful to think of a rosary, mala, prayer beads, or prayer rope as a tool, that through time and prayer, will open one up to something more, something greater than ourselves. It can be like a key, that unlocks a door to something or somewhere else. This is an invitation to step out of the endless wordiness of our world and into a method of prayer that can transform your life.
The ultimate aim of developing a practice of prayer with beads is better connection with our Creator. And there is no better way to experience God’s presence than in the expanse of deep silence.
The King of Peace website provides historical information as well as instructions for how to make and use Anglican Rosaries. This handout was adapted from the King of Peace website by the folks at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church.
Sparkle and Sprinkle offers a step by step tutorial with pictures.
I also make hand wired rosaries and accept orders through my Instagram account. I make my own designs and have developed a few “unique to me” patterns, one for non-religious folks and one for the recovery community.