Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Pray With Beads

No matter what faith or tradition you practice, the use of beads to pray is a journey into mysterious realms, full of contradictions.  You will be traveling by yourself but never be alone. You will go somewhere while sitting perfectly still.  It will be a journey of words conducted in near silence.    You will have gone away, without leaving where you are.  The beads are the journey.  The number & configuration of the beads is not important.  The intention behind them is crucial.  

Learning to pray contemplatively with beads takes practice.  There are a few simple steps that will help put you into the right state of mind....

1.  Find a quiet place where you can be alone & undisturbed.
2.  Sit still for a few moments in silence.
3.  Narrow your circle of attention, only to your breath.
4.  Breathe in & out slowly, lowering your heart rate & calming your body.
5.  Spend a few minutes in quiet reflection.
6.  When you are calm & still, pick up your beads.

You may want to have an icon or picture that induces a peaceful state in front of you.  Don't think about what you're praying about, rather focus on what you're praying for.  Keep the idea of it in your head.  Feel it as you pray.  Thinking will take you out of the mysterious realm of prayer & bring you back to the mundane world of demands & obligations. 

The beads will help you direct your attention to the task.  Rotating the beads between your fingers will anchor you to the words of the prayer.  Your prayers should be deeply felt statements of faith, praise & joy that will keep you emotionally attached to your intention.

Contemplative prayer will not come readily, so be patient with yourself.  It's hard to shut out the noise of everyday life with all its complications.  It won't be easy in the beginning but with time & persistence it will come.  The results will be well worth it.  I promise.


  1. Such a wonderful description. Many times, people say that there have to be a certain number and the beads count you etc, etc. I find that the way you describe is how I use mine and how they help me to remain focused.

    1. In my opinion, it's not the faith tradition you believe in, or the number of beads, or what material they are made of. What is important is the 'practice' of connecting to the divine that matters.