For centuries, religious people from Hindus to Buddhists to Catholics have been using prayer beads. Now Protestants are adopting prayer beads as a spiritual practice.
The word bead comes from bede, which means prayer. “For those who struggle with how to pray—or what to pray—prayer beads can provide much-needed structure,” writes Kristen Vincent in her book: A Bead and Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads.
As religious people, prayer is something we engage in on a regular basis. Whether in our worship together, in small groups, before meetings, or at home, we pray to call God into our midst and call upon God to help us in what we are doing. However, some struggle to use prayer from a book and others struggle to pray without a book. As the year begins and as we head toward Lent, now is the time when many are looking at their prayer practices and wondering how they can do it more, try something new, or begin a new practice. Here are a few ideas to get you started. They can be used with many different age groups and in a wide variety of settings.
Many people today are yearning for quiet time, or time to be still, or time for themselves without interruptions. Life today is full. Full of study, work, friends, family, play, technology, etc. We have cars and bikes that get us places more quickly, we have technology that helps us get things done more quickly, we have fast food, and instant gratification. It is all more than we can truly take.
Cardinal Godfred Daneels said, “The human person hesitates before the True, is impotent before the Good, but loves Beauty.”
As congregations begin to make preparations for Advent, this holy – true, good, and beautiful – season of the year, the O Antiphons stand out as one of the Church’s Advent prayer practices that can lead us to the peaceful, simple, rooted posture that we all seek.
We all get them. Electronic Newsletters from our congregation, news outlets, organizations that we belong to, or our child’s school fill our inboxes. If you are like many people, you scan them for information you might need or interesting things you may want to look into and then they are discarded. If your congregation is like many, you have gone to the electric format for a number of reasons, and even if you still print out your newsletter, I encourage you to think of how you can use it as a formation tool.
Encourage adults to notice the blessings around them and to write about them. David Steindl-Rast’s book, 99 Blessings: An Invitation to Life Rast (Image, 2013) gives blessings that the Catholic monk has experienced and cherished. Blessings in this book include birthdays, constellations, learning by heart, sleep, spring flowers, and more.
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