At a recent small seminar on using the Anglican rosary (Protestant prayer beads) I encountered some criticism of my using the word Protestant instead of Christian for describing the prayer beads. I felt no need to get into a open debate about this at the time and I understood the reasoning behind the person’s criticism.
However, a bit later, I was also criticized for telling those attending the seminar they could use written prayers, songs, or sections of Scripture to develop their own content for prayer.
“No!” I was told, “It must not be long or complicated! It must be a short as possible!”
Still, I felt there is little value in arguing with someone who obviously had taken an immovable position and was intent upon disruption. I let the comment pass and moved on with my presentation.
I understand where this person was coming from. This person is a strong advocate for the centering prayer. This person feels that this is the ultimate form of contemplative prayer, without exception.
Each person is entitled to their own opinion.
I love to spend time entering into the land of silence. I, too, strive to enter into the joy and blessings of the centering prayer. However, I also find times of spiritual growth and intimacy with the Spirit through prayer that come through using the beads and sources I have felt lead to put together to guide my heart and focus into the presence of God.
Some people, myself included, deal with a discursive mind that in made even more chaotic by a clinical disorder (for me ADHD) and, without taking medication, find the centering prayer a difficult (if not impossible) discipline. It is not that I do not want to struggle against the “monkey mind” but I do not find it as productive as taking up the beads and using the physical contact to focus my prayer thoughts. I find in doing this God’s presence and enter stillness (not necessarily silence) which is as restorative and as formational as the centering prayer.
Also, I have found God’s presence and blessings in the creative process of creating prayers for my Protestant rosary. The Holy Spirit, in my opinion, is not limited to using short phrases in guiding us to a deeper spiritual encounter with the Ever One, the Holy Trinity.
Because of my experience with a “fundamentalist” mindset in my own life, I seek to be very careful in telling people what is the “right way” or the “wrong way” to seek growth toward the Kingdom. As a spiritual director, I want to provide people the space and freedom they need to discover what God is doing in their lives.
So, here in this post, where a person can choose to read or not read, agree or not agree without disruptive contention or rude interruption, I encourage those who are discovering the joy of using prayer beads to find and choose the best way for them to proceed.