Should Christians use prayer beads?
Sometimes the mind wanders during a time of prayer, as it is ideally a comforting, safe and peaceful time. This lends to a lack of focus or even being a little sleepy. Other times, we are trying to squeeze prayer time in as just one more thing to do on our ever-expanding “things to do” list, and other parts of the list creep in and take over our thoughts.
Prayer beads/rosary beads are used by Catholics to count/keep track of repetitive prayers. However, Jesus warned against such prayers:
And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Matthew 6:7: 7
Our privilege of communication with our heavenly Father through His son Jesus is awesome and awe-inspiring. Prayers should not be repetitive, rote, or something to rush through. Prayer beads and other “helps” are not mentioned or recommended in the Bible, so we would instead recommend other techniques to help focus us.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says us to “pray without ceasing,” which tells us that we can pray at all hours, at all times, at all lengths. Perhaps your prayer is at a red light, “Thank you, LORD, for this red light to give me a chance to slow down and contemplate something I am thankful for, such as….” or “LORD, my time is in Your hands, so maybe in Your wisdom this extra time is preventing me from getting into an accident. Thank you.” In other words, we should be in constant communication in the moment, which should help with concentration.
– Keep your prayers short when close to bedtime or at times of particularly high stress. Your mind is less likely to wander or get tired. Don’t wait to pray until everything else for the day is done and you are exhausted. A short prayer here is good, but don’t expect to be able to concentrate on longer prayers at this time.
– Write/type your longer prayers to stay focused.
– Take several deep breaths before starting your prayer to center yourself and give you time to shut the outside world off.
– Consider a routine where some activity is done ahead of time to “signal” to your brain that prayer time is coming up. Maybe that is something physical like doing ten jumping jacks to clear your head. Perhaps that means sitting in a particular chair you don’t normally sit in. My cousin has a “prayer chair” in her living room, and the rest of the family knows not to distract her when sitting in the chair. Maybe you can get up a half hour earlier before distractions set in and choose a scripture or two to meditate on.
– Consider a change of scenery – go for a walk, where you can talk out loud to keep your thoughts on track.
– Prayer is an essential part in the life of a Christian and it is important to keep our prayer life fresh so that we don’t lose connection with God.
For more on prayer listen to, “Will Prayer Change Your Life?”
“What Can We Learn From Jesus’ Final Prayers?”