Monday, October 28, 2013

A Bead And A Prayer

A Bead And A Prayer:

A Beginner's Guide To Protestant Prayer Beads

By Kristen E Vincent

Published by Upper Room Books, 2013

I was intrigued by the title  - and the sub-title!

 Having started life as an Anglo-Catholic, I was accustomed to praying the traditional Rosary, and as an Orthodox I have my chotki, my long prayer rope on which I pray the "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner" prayer. I had heard of the "Anglican Rosary" which was developed in the 1980s but had never seen a set of the distinctive beads or known anyone who prays it.

Kristen Vincent has been intrigued by,  loved and collected Rosary beads and chaplets since her Presbyterian childhood, although she does not use the usual invocations to the Mother of God which constitute the traditional Rosary. She felt a distinct call to make and distribute prayer beads and started a ministry doing just that, wishing to make the usefulness of praying with beads known to many and dispelling the belief that this was a type of prayer restricted to Roman Catholic Christians. This slim book is  based on the four week long workshop sessions she teaches about making and using prayer beads.

She identifies the beads as having a similar function to Jewish Tzitzit, a means of reminding, focusing and concentrating on God and indeed, Christians have been praying with stones or strings of beads since the earliest days of Christianity. The Desert Fathers and Mothers used stones to count where they were in their daily recitation of the Psalter and this practice was followed by many pious laypeople, who if they were unable to read and pray the Psalms, would recite 150 Our Father prayers instead, using a prayer rope. Over time, this developed into the Rosary still prayed by many Catholics throughout the world. Many Protestant Christians would feel uncomfortable asking the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, but Kristen Vincent argues that there is no need for them to miss out on the many benefits and spiritual helps  that praying with beads can give.

The resources section is good, indicating useful books, websites and sources for purchasing the beads etc needed to make a set of prayer beads. Full and very simple instructions are given about making your very own and highly personalised set of beads as well as several different sets of prayers which can be used with the beads, ranging from the Eastern Orthodox Jesus prayer, the Lord's prayer, verses from Scripture to intercessory prayer for others - a versatile tool indeed for any Christian.

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