Using Beads and Ropes (Rosaries)

Using Prayer Beads and Prayer Ropes

Yesterday I started giving my blog some thought. We are in such a strange time right now. As we go on during this time none of us have experienced before things may get more strange. We are seeing levels of anxiety I am not sure I have seen before. But, then again, at least in my lifetime we haven’t experienced a pandemic virus. When I watched the late local news I learned it has made it to within one county. It is getting closer. I am also sure the anxiety levels will continue to grow.

As I have thought about the anxiety around us, I have also thought about prayer. We are told in Scripture not to worry but instead to pray. I know many of you are praying. I know many of you continue to pray for three minutes each night at 9:00. If you are not, please join us at that time.

As I was thinking this time though I started thinking about aids to prayer. I thought I would spend a little time over the next few days talking about some aids to prayer. There are many out there. There are also many traditions to go along with them. We are going to begin today with the first of three days on beads and ropes. Spoiler alert, I personally like ropes better than beads.

There are bead (and rope) traditions in just about every religion in the world. Christianity is no different. There are three principle types of beads and ropes used in Christianity. You may see others from time to time, but these are the most common. They are the Rosary, the Anglican prayer beads and ropes, and the Orthodox prayer beads and ropes. Today we begin with the Rosary.

My interest in these traditions first came during a three day spiritual retreat called Walk to Emmaus back in 1993. I was given a Rosary during the weekend as an aide to prayer. The Rosary give to me is below.

The Rosary is the one of these traditions most of us know best. That doesn’t mean we use it or know how to use it or even understand its use. We just know it to see it. I admittedly don’t know how to use it in its traditional use.

Let me interject here, there is no wrong way to use any of the beads or knots we will talk about during the next few days. As I said, I don’t really know the Rosary. I do know how to research and what I share with you today will come from that research. My biggest single problem in prayer is staying focused. My mind tends to wander during my prayer time. I have found that just holding something like a string or Rosary beads or a Rosary rope in my hands is a help. I have used crosses in the same way.

I know a few people who assign a particular meaning or they use it as their prayer list. The list of possible ways to use a rosary is endless.

Does that mean our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church are doing it wrong? Absolutely not. Remember, there is no wrong way to use prayer beads and ropes. If the beads or ropes help you pray better, whether in the traditional manner, something you found somewhere else but still important, or just holding it as you pray.

In the top picture you see Rosary beads. In some Rosaries some beads are larger than the others. Such is not the case in the top picture. What you can see is the single bead, by itself with ten that are close together preceding and following. On some Rosaries the single beads would be larger. The single beads are followed by strands of 10. The single bead is an “Our Father” bead. The ten beads close together are “Hail Mary” beads. The ten Mail Mary beads together are called a decade. There are five decades around the Rosary.

The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. Opening with the Apostles’ Creed. It reminds us of the power of faith. The Our Father, introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The Hail Mary is an leads to thoughts of the annunciation of Jesus’ birth from the angel to Mary.

The repetitive nature of the Rosary, it is hoped, leads one into direct contemplative prayer. The Repetition of the words help to create a silence of our souls. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group.

Praying the Rosary (Traditional)

Christians who pray the Rosary in the traditional format follow these steps:

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross.
  2. Holding the Crucifix or cross, say the Apostles’ Creed.
  3. On the first bead, say an Our Father.
  4. Say one Hail Mary on each of the next three beads.
  5. Say the Glory Be
  6. For each of the five decades, announce the Mystery (perhaps followed by a brief reading from Scripture) then say the Our Father.
  7. While fingering each of the ten beads of the decade, next say ten Hail Marys while meditating on the Mystery. Then say a Glory Be.
    (After finishing each decade, some say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.)
  8. After saying the five decades, say the Hail, Holy Queen, followed by this dialogue and prayer:

    V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
    R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
    Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son,
    by his life, Death, and Resurrection,
    has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life,
    grant, we beseech thee,
    that while meditating on these mysteries
    of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
    we may imitate what they contain
    and obtain what they promise,
    through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Other Rosary Prayers (Less traditional)

The links above give alternative uses for the Rosary.

If you use a Rosary in a non-traditional way, if you are willing, please share your method in the comments below.

Have a blessed evening.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission Is Given for the non-commercial use of this material

NOTE: If you are interested in a prayer rope, message me on Facebook or email me at


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