The Use of Beads in Prayers
Anglican Prayer Beads, also known as the Anglican Rosary, is a relatively new form of prayer that has elements in common with both the Orthodox prayer rope and the Catholic rosary. It is the fruit of over a decade’s contemplative practice and study by an Episcopal congregation seeking to both broaden and deepen their spiritual lives. Since its beginning in the 1980’s, its popularity has grown rapidly as individuals throughout the United States and Canada have begun using them as an aid to contemplative prayer.
Throughout history, Christian and non-Christian religions alike have used different forms of prayer counters with which to repeat shorter invocations many times each day. Christians of both Western and Eastern Rite traditions have a long acquaintance with such counters or prayer beads.
The Anglican rosary consists of thirty three (33) beads divided into four groups of seven (which signifies wholeness or completion) called WEEKS replacing the five groups of ten beads called DECADES found in the original Latin rosary (used today primarily Roman Catholics). Between each set of seven is a single bead, a CRUCIFORM bead (four in all), forming a Cross within the circle of the rosary. There is no ‘corpus’ in an Anglican Rosary. To see the Cruciform (cross-form), lay the rosary down flt and draw a line between the four beads.
How to use the rosary
Hold the Cross to begin and then move around the beads. The first bead (Invitatory Bead) invites us into God’s presence. The four larger or different beads divide the WEEKS and form a Cross or Cruciform across the circle of the rosary. These can serve as a reminder of Creation, the temporal ‘weeks’ of the year or the Seasons of the Church Year. A prayer can be said at each of these points.
The use of a rosary is a very personal invitation to prayer. Many people make up their own prayers using their favorite Psalm, Scripture passage, hymn etc. Some possibilities follow, but they’re meant to be an aid to your devotions, not a rigorous exercise to “get through.”