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.
Vincent’s book gives a suggested outline for introducing prayer beads. These include:
Making the Case for Prayer Beads for Protestants. Vincent suggests scripture readings, reflection questions, and information about prayer beads in general and why Protestants can incorporate prayer beads into their daily spiritual practice.
How to Use Prayer Beads. People who use prayer beads can incorporate well-known prayers (such as the Lord’s Prayer), scripture passages, the Christian calendar, or prayers about life circumstances. Any of these can add a richness and depth to prayer.
How to Listen with Prayer Beads. Praying well is more than knowing what to say. It’s learning how to listen and how to be still. Helping individuals become comfortable with silence can enrich their faith journey.
How to Make Prayer Beads. People are more likely to adopt and stick with the practice of using prayer beads when they like the color, the shape, and symbolism of their prayer beads.
“You do not have to be a perfect person of faith to pray with prayer beads,” writes Kimberly Winston in Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads. “You just have to try to have faith to be open to the possibility that God really is with us, despite the travails that will inevitably be a part of our lives and the lives of those we love.”
For many Protestants, prayer beads make the act of prayer more concrete, more colorful, and a reminder that we have something to hold onto no matter what’s happening in our lives.
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