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Praying with Beads

Sister Doreen’s Reflections

“Life is often so busy and chaotic that even when we do find time to pray, our minds cannot settle and our thoughts drift to stresses and concerns that pull our attention elsewhere. With the use of beads, however, our bodies are incorporated into the act of praying, allowing us to remain present with God in a state of peaceful meditation.”  Nan Lewis Doerr

For many us, holding the beads in our hands and working our way through them by touch really satisfies something in our bodies and begins to clear our minds to focus on what we are praying. Beads help us to become still in God’s presence. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers or mantras, can lead us more readily into stillness, and at the same time facilitate deeper thoughts and bring peace of mind. Meditation beads have an appeal that goes beyond any one religious tradition or denomination.

By using prayer beads to connect with God we are continuing an ancient and timeless tradition of people from many times, places, backgrounds and religious expressions who have used pebbles, beads, and knots to help them in their prayer. There is nothing magical about prayer beads, they are only one of many tools for people who desire to put themselves in the hands of God who graciously gives us life.

There are many ways to approach using prayer beads, sometimes in our own Anglican tradition called Anglican Prayer Beads or An Anglican Rosary. There is not a “right” way to use or select the prayers you wish to use for the prayer beds. If this way of prayer seems to appeal to  you, try several prayer forms (morning prayer, evening prayer, the psalms, short scripture passages …

An Anglican rosary looks like this, and the suggested way of using it is to hold the Cross and say the pray you have assigned to it, and then move to the invitatory bead, then the cruciform bead, and pray moving around the circle to the right praying on the smaller beads called ‘the weeks’. As you can see there are four groups of seven beads. It is suggested that you pray around the circle of beads three times (which signifies the Trinity) in an unhurried pace, allowing the repetition to quiet your mind and open your heart to God. A period of silence should follow the prayer, for a time of reflection and listening, and for an opportunity to place yourself in the hands of God.

I will give you one sample of prayers to use in this reflection of praying with beads – it is one sample amongst a wide variety of ways of praying the beads.

Sample prayers

Morning prayer – Creation awakens

(J.P. Newell – Celtic Benediction morning prayer & Evening Prayer)

The Cross

In the Name of the Holy-Three-in-One. Amen

The invitatory

Blessed are you, O Child of the Dawn, for your light that dapples through all creation.

The Cruciforms

Blessed are you, O Christ, for you awaken me to life.

The Weeks (small beads)

If the grace of seeing were mine this day, I would glimpse you in all that lives

The last time through: The invitatory bead

The Lord’s Prayer

The Cross

May the light of God illumine the heart of my soul.

May the flame of Christ kindle me to love.

May the fire of the Spirit free me to live this day, tonight and for ever. Amen

Evening Prayer – In the Silence of the Night

The Cross

In the Name of the Holy-Three-in-One. Amen

The Invitatory

Glory be to you, O God of the night, for the whiteness of the moon and the infinite stretches of dark spaces.

The Cruciforms

For the quiet that surrounds me and your promise of peace deep within me, thanks be to you, O God.

The Weeks

The stillness of God be mine this night.

Last time through: The Invitatory bead

The Lord’s prayer

The Cross

Glory be to you, Life of all life. Renew me this night in the depths of sleep, set free my dreams of the unknown. Safeguard this time of resting, O God, enfold me in the darkness of the night. Amen.

Resources for Praying the Beads”

  • Praying the Psalms with Beads by Nan Lewis Doerr
  • Praying with Beads by Nan Lewis Doerr
  • The Anglican Rosary Prayer Book

There are several suggestions on the internet that you might find helpful.

In trying forms of prayer using the beads, you may find one that fits you, remembering that using them you are trying to quiet yourself, open yourself, and place yourself in the hands of God. If you find it helpful to use beads as your form of prayer, may they remind you that God is as close to you as the beads that you hold in your hand.