Prayers of gratitude

Prayers of gratitude

Several years ago, I faced a period of deep depression that seemed to suck the light, pleasure, goodness, and hope out of every last corner of life. As I struggled to find a way out, I happened across an article extolling the benefits of actively practicing gratitude. It seemed to me to be worth at least giving it a try since I had nothing to lose.

Although I felt drained of my ability to pray, I did find small comfort in the weight and feel of prayer beads in my hands, so I decided to incorporate a similar set of beads into my practice of gratitude. I put together a string of 101 sodalite beads, with one larger bead anchoring the two ends together. Every day I would make myself name one unique thing for which I was grateful with each bead on the string.

I quickly learned that meeting such a high goal required that I use a great deal of specificity in the items I named. It was not enough to name a category, like “friends.” I found myself naming each friend I could think of one by one to stretch things out.

Instead of naming “good food” as an item, I named every favorite food I could think of: corn on the cob, artichoke hearts, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, fresh cherries, raspberries and blackberries, peaches, cheese, and sunflower seeds.

Instead of naming “Spring flowers,” I found myself actually leaving the house to walk the neighborhood to remind me of all of the options I could add to the list: daffodils, forsythia, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, and snowdrops.

Each bead and each thing I found to be grateful for became a little micro-prayer of thanksgiving, and the practice slowly brought me back to life.

Although I no longer use this extended gratitude practice regularly, it’s a tool that’s always there for me when I need a boost out of a dark place.

These days, I would find a mala (with its 108 beads) to work just as well as the 101-bead string of beads I put together so long ago, but this practice can be equally as well adapted to use with an Anglican rosary.

In this case, each “week” of beads would focus on a different category of your choosing, with each individual bead being a prayer of thanksgiving for something in that category. For example, if you chose Good Friends as the category for a given week on the cruciform bead at the start of the week, then each week bead would be a prayer of thanks for a different friend.

You can cycle through the rosary as many times as needed to cover all categories you can think of before ending with the Invitatory bead and Cross prayers.

Cross:In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Invitatory bead:Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:29)
Cruciform beads:I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1) Thank you for __________ (name a category).
Week beads 1-7:Thank you, Lord, for ______________ (name a specific item in that category).
Invitatory bead:Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:29)
Cross:Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Glory to Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.