I don't know about you, but I am especially challenged during my "normal" times of meditation and prayer. My "monkey brain" seems to shift into overdrive and I simply can't concentrate enough to have a meaningful time of meditation and prayer.
I know God understands. I know I don't have to have beautiful, poetic prayers with perfectly perfect words. God hears the deepest cries of the heart even before they form themselves into words.
It's my body, my soul and my mind that need a little more help to repel the anxiety that is swirling around in the cultural ether in these days of "sheltering in place".
This is when I find the Anglican Prayer Beads - aka Anglican Rosary - most helpful.
I'm going to start a Facebook Live session tonight at 10 PM - just a little something to help us all get into a better space for a more restful sleep and, in the words of Compline, "a peaceful night and a perfect end".
So, for those of you who don't know about the Anglican Prayer Beads, I'll skip over all the history and such and simply reassure you that praying with prayer beads is not just for Roman Catholics.
Prayer beads have been used for centuries by Orthodox Christians as well as those who practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Ba'hai.
Anglican Prayer Beads are used and have been adapted by Methodists, who call them Protestant Prayer Beads and Lutherans, who call them "The Wreath of Christ."
What I love most about Anglican Prayer Beads, besides their effectiveness in helping to calm and still the soul in distress, and focus and ease a troubled mind, is that it can be adapted to various situations.
One can change the prayers using the liturgical cycle, the Serenity Prayer, prayers for healing, and/or prayers for a specific person or situation. One can also use them and sing your prayers.
See? Thoroughly Anglican. Not either/or but both/and.
It's a way to slow down what we are thinking or feeling or doing by helping us to pay attention, feeling our way, bead by bead, and drawing us closer to a sense of God's presence.
Let me take you through the 'architecture', as it were, of the Anglican Prayer Beads. Everything is rich with symbolism and meaning.
With the other hand, we hold the first large bead, the Invitation, which calls us to worship God and invites us into the circle of prayer.
We continue to enter more deeply into prayer, touching or holding the first of four Cruciform beads, so-called because they form an "invisible cross" inside the circle of prayer.
The smaller beads in groups of seven, in between the Cruciform beads, are known as The Seven Day Beads. We pray and praise God in Christ for "sev'n whole days not one in sev'n" (thank you, George Herbert).
And, of course, the number 7 symbolizes the number of days in creation, including the day of rest. It symbolizes spiritual perfection and completion.
We make our way 'round the four sets of the week and return to the Invitation Bead and then back out to bring the Cross into the world.
So, if you've been paying attention, that means that Anglican Prayer Beads are comprised of a cross and 33 beads, 5 large and 28 small. The thirty-three beads are supposed to remind us of the number of years Christ spent in his earthly life before he ascended into heaven.
You can find lots of information about the great variety of prayers to use when praying with Anglican Prayer Beads.
You can use The Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Here's one with the Lord's Prayer as the prayer for the Cruciform Bead and the Jesus Prayer for the Seven Day Beads
Here's another one that uses The Lord's Prayer for the Cruciform Beads and the Serenity Prayer for the Seven Day Beads.
Here is a form for the Trisagion and Lord's Prayer and one using the Agnus Dei
And, if you are the musical type and pray better while you sing, here's a fabulous "Introduction to Praying with Anglican Prayer Beads and Song," by Rev Sylvia Miller-Mutia.
One last thing: If you don't have Anglican Prayer Beads, not to worry. You can make them out of yarn or string by tying knots in the appropriate places. Here are some directions.
Or, you can make them with beads. Here are some really simple instructions.
Of course, you can always buy them online. I mean, even Amazon carries them, some, under $10
Here's the one I've been using during this time of COVID-19 Pandemic. It incorporates one of the phrases of the Supplication (BCP p 154 which is to be used "especially in times of war, or of national anxiety, or of disaster), as well as the prayers of Julian of Norwich.
The tension between the words of the Supplication and the mystery inherent in the response of Julian's vision always bring me a sense of peace. I also like that we enter with a sense of the mystery of God and God's love and we leave with that same sense of mystery.
At the Cross:Please join me every Wednesday night at 10 PM for a Facebook Live session on the Facebook Page: "Sirach 26:10 The Headstrong Daughter".
A little thing God showed to Julian, the size of a hazelnut;
it lay like a ball on the palm of her hand.
"What is it," she asked, "this little fragile thing?"
"It is all that is made," God said,
"and exists now and forever for I love it."
O Lord, arise, help us.
And deliver us for thy name's sake.
In you, Father almighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Savior,
In you, our Lord, the Holy Spirit is marvelous and plenteous grace.
At the Seven Days
All shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well.
We'll be praying this prayer together but you may certainly use other prayers during the rest of the week.
(Note: Sirach 26:10: "Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter, for when she finds her liberty, she will use it.")