Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Walk with Him Wednesday: Prayer Beads

Meditative prayer is different, very different, from the mostly intercessory prayer I knew in the evangelical church. When I first learned to pray, I prayed almost exclusively for requests -- that's what I was taught. I prayed for others' sometimes desperate needs. I prayed for friends and family. I even prayed for myself, even though such prayer seemed rather selfish at the time. But after a while, I felt as if I prayed only when needs arose -- hardly ever as an act of love or worship. Prayer seemed more like a grocery list of requests. It took me years -- decades even -- to get past praying for needs versus worshiping God in prayer.

Years later I learned the A.C.T.S. model of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. This mode of prayer was a vast improvement over the grocery list prayers I had been praying for years. But I still struggled with truly worshiping God ... until I started praying with the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and other prayer books like The Diary of Private Prayer which both taught me how to pray Scripture and to glorify Him beautifully.

It has never been difficult for me to pray these same prayers repeatedly, mostly because the prayers are fashioned from arrangements of God's Word, and we are assured that "His Word never returns void." I quickly found that I could pray the same Scriptures every morning and mean it just as much the first day as I did three, five, even seven years later. It's a matter of concentration, and also a matter of listening for the "still, small voice" of the Spirit. I could hear Him while my mind concentrated on the familiar prayers.

Another way of praying for me has been through the use of Anglican Prayer Beads. I ordered mine from Full Circle Beads when I couldn't find beads I liked to make one myself. My prayer beads came with a little pamphlet that explained the symbolism of the beads and also contained eight different prayers, again mostly Scripture, that could be prayed with the beads.

From the pamphlet:
"Symbolism of the Beads:
Anglican prayer beads are made up of 33 beads divided into four groups of seven, called weeks, four cruciform beads, and an invitatory bead. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven represents spiritual perfection. Between each week, the single cruciform beads form a cross. The invitatory bead between the cross and the wheel of beads brings the total number of beads to 33, the number of years is Jesus' earthly life."
There is also a wonderful explanation of Why Use Prayer Beads on the Full Circle site. The prayers in the pamphlet are far from the only prayers prayed with Anglican Prayer Beads, but the ones included are: "Bless the Lord," "Julian of Norwich," "A Celtic Prayer," "Trisagion and Jesus," "Come Lord Jesus," "An Evening Prayer," "Agnus Dei," and "Saint Patrick's Breastplate." An explanation of how to pray with the beads can be found here: Praying with Beads.

One of my favorites is the "Agnus Dei." I fill in the blank with the name of a person for whom I wish to pray -- and with the four weeks to pray for people, I can pray for 28 people among family, friends, and other needs.

Agnus Dei
The Cross: The Lord's Prayer

The Invitatory: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. -- Psalm 19:14

The Cruciforms: O Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us, O Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us, O Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, grant us Thy Peace.

The Weeks: Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Bless and keep _________. Amen.

The Invitatory: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.

The Cross: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. -- The Gloria Patri
I find praying with the beads soothing, quieting, peaceful. The feel of the stone beads between my fingers allow me to close my eyes as I pray for certain people, and the larger cruciform beads alert me to change to the prayer of praise. I leave my prayer corner with a serene heart, knowing I have lifted up my loved ones to God this day and always.

holy experience

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin