“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5.17
Years ago, when I was new to the Christian faith and a member of the Anglican Church, I purchased a string of beads called the Anglican rosary. When I left the communion they sat unused with other religious paraphernalia until this year. I have recently decided to throw myself into Anglicanism, observing Lent and attending the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. I have also decided to pray using beads and have still found them beneficial as an aid to prayer. I thought it might be a good to share how I have been using the beads and include some of the prayers and meditations I’ve found most useful.
There is no set form of prayers like you would find with the Roman Catholic rosary so I have been free to choose more biblical prayers for my prayer times.
The Anglican rosary begins with the cross. I hold the cross in my hand and recite the Nicene Creed from the Book of Common Prayer taking time to reflect upon the words of the creed.
On the invitatory bead I make a confession of sins and ask for forgiveness. The Book of Common Prayer has a beautiful confession from the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper that I like to use before beginning the “weeks.”
Throughout the weeks I say the ancient Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, Have mercy on me a Sinner.” This is a prayer that I have used for almost 20 years without beads and one that I have found leads to a deeper sense of communion with Christ. As I pray I inhale and silently say, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God” and exhale, “Have mercy upon me a sinner.” This slows down the prayer and allows me to focus on Jesus Christ.
On each cruciform bead I like to pray the Our Father (Matt. 6). I find consistency the best way to pray so I use the same prayers changing little if at all.
The final invitatory bead is the conclusion of the rosary and I finish with, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19.14
While holding the cross I use the final moments of my prayer time to think of the Gospel readings from the Lectionary or some other theological work I’ve recently read. The prayers and the final meditation draw one closer to Christ by driving home biblical passages and concept.
A Note on Repetitive Prayer:
Our Lord gives the warning that is often applied to those who use prayer beads and rosaries, one doesn’t apply to the Anglican Rosary,
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matt. 6.7
Let’s add some context. The footnote in the Geneva Bible reads on Matthew 6.7, “Long prayers are not condemned, but vain, needless, and superstitious ones. ” I believe this is actuate. Setting aside a specific time isn’t the issue but the motive is the issue. If one was to believe we could trade our prayers to earn a reward we would be in violation of the Lord’s command and acting superstitiously.
The People’s New Testament Commentary reads, “What is forbidden is not much praying, nor praying in the same words (the Lord did both), but making the number of prayers, length of prayers, or time spent in praying, a point of observance and of merit. 1 Kings 18:26 gives an example of the repetitions of the heathen. Mahometans and Catholics still hold that there is merit in repeating certain prayers a set number of times.” (emphasis added) I do not believe Matthew 6.7 is condemning rosary style prayers but pagan prayers performed to earn something and prayer done out of a superstitious need for comfort.
Christians are instructed to avoid “vain repetitions” when praying, but I must contend the Jesus Prayer or similar prayers are not in vain. The time I spend in prayer is not superstitious but soul nourishing. When I pray, each and every time, the words of the prayer are new. They strike me with fresh force and meaning. Prayer is needful to the spiritual life and must be meaningful so choose your prayers wisely. The prayers you choose should be taken from or relating to scripture with a motive to love the Lord Jesus more. May God through Jesus Christ forgive me if I am in error on this subject.
Yours in the Lord,