Some of us pray best when we have a circle of prayer beads with one bead after another passing through our fingers and hands. We enjoy feeling the shape, the texture, the size of the beads, and the spaces around them.
Early Christians in monasteries and liturgies first used pebbles or shell and then knots on a cord to keep track of praying the Psalms, the Lordís prayer, and the Hail Mary.
The Catholic rosary / Dominican rosary These simple repetitive prayers evolved very slowly over several centuries into the prayers of what we know today as the Catholic Dominican rosary. In the early 1400s, the ancient praying of the Hail Mary was combined with meditations on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This new rosary now provided the repetition and rhythm which allowed for the opportunity for experiencing contemplation and transformation. The focus of this string of beads had been changed from an external one to an internal one.
The Anglican Rosary / Anglican prayer beads A very different set of prayer beads named The Anglican Rosary appeared in the 1980s. This string of beads was created and designed with Christian symbolism, but definite prayers were not assigned to each bead. It, too, has a structure of repetition and rhythm and, with meaningful prayers, can also provide the opportunity for experiencing contemplation and transformation.
Both Praying with either set of beads can help to focus our attention, which then brings us into greater silence and re-collection, into contemplation, before God. Regularly praying at an unhurried pace, and in a quiet time and space, allows our minds to rest and our hearts to become quiet and still.
Many meaningful things can help us focus our attention: oneís breathing, a mantra, reading a piece of scripture slowly and reflectively, an icon, or candle flame.
But some of us pray best by handling prayer beads. Some of us pray best when we have a string of prayer beads with one bead after another passing through our fingers and hands.