St. Matthew's Episcopal Church

Brecksville, OH

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Anglican Prayer Beads

Symbolism of the Beads

The configuration of the Anglican Prayer Beads relate contemplative prayer using the Rosary to many levels of traditional Christian symbolism. Contemplative prayer is enriched by these symbols whose purpose is always to focus and concentrate attention, allowing the one who prays to move more swiftly into the Presence of God.

The prayer beads are made up of twenty-eight beads divided into four groups of seven called weeks. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven represents spiritual perfection and completion. Between each week is a single bead, called a cruciform bead as the four beads form a cross. The invitatory bead between the cross and the wheel of beads brings the total to thirty-three, the number of years in Jesus' earthly life.

Praying with the Beads

Prayer Bead Diagram

To begin, hold the Cross and say the prayer you have assigned to it, then move to the Invitatory Bead. Then enter the circle of the prayer with the first Cruciform Bead, moving to the right, go through the first set of seven beads to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle, saying the prayers for each bead.

It is suggested that you pray around the circle of the beads three times (which signifies the Trinity) in an unhurried pace, allowing the repetition to become a sort of lullaby of love and praise that enables your mind to rest and your heart to become quiet and still.

Praying through the beads three times and adding the crucifix at the beginning or the end, brings the total to one hundred, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary. A period of silence should follow the prayer, for a time of reflection and listening. Listening is an important part of all prayer.

Begin praying the Anglican Prayer Beads by selecting the prayers you wish to use for the cross and each bead. Practice them until it is clear which prayer goes with which bead, and as far as possible commit the prayers to memory.

Find a quiet spot and allow your body and mind to become restful and still. After a time of silence, begin praying the prayer beads at an unhurried, intentional pace. Complete the circle of the beads three times.

When you have completed the round of the prayer beads, you should end with a period of silence. This silence allows you to center your being in an extended period of silence. It also invites reflection and listening after you have invoked the Name and Presence of God.

Closing your Prayers
The following ending can be used with any of the prayers listed here. After three circuits around the prayer beads, you may finish as follows:

Last time through:

Invitatory Bead
The Lord's Prayer

The Cross
I bless the Lord.

Or, in a group setting:
Let us bless the Lord
Thanks be to God.

Personalizing Your Rosary

Once you become familiar with using the Rosary as a tool for prayer and meditation you might like to write your own prayer 'formula'.

  • Select an overall theme you wish to reflect in your prayers. E.g. morning prayer, healing, peace, scriptural meditation.
  • Gather material which reflect your theme from the Bible, prayer books, poems, hymns, chants, sayings, or write your own. Be creative.
  • Write brief prayers for each group of beads and the cross.
  • The Cross might be a statement of faith or acclamation.
  • The Invitatory might be a general invitation to prayer.
  • The Cruciforms might broadly reflect the chosen theme.
  • The Weeks might specifically reflect the overall theme.

You might like to use the same prayer for each type of bead (invitatory, cruciform, week) or use a different prayer on each type of bead (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th cruciform for example).

You may also like to use of combination of written prayers and meditative chants such as those of the Taize community.