We tend to associate prayer with using words. This is especially true when we are hurting or anxious, and we come to prayer asking for help.
There are times, though, when the pain, the fear, the rage, the grief runs so deep that we have no words to express all that we are feeling and struggling with. All we have is an inarticulate, anguished scream in our hearts.
It’s in moments like this that prayer beads can come to our rescue to help us pray when we have no words to pray with.
But don’t we still use words for the memorized prayers as we use our prayer beads?
Yes, but those prayers serve a different purpose. The words of these comforting, familiar prayers and the recitation of them as we move through our prayer beads offers our minds something to do while we pray at a level deeper than words.
By giving our minds something to focus on besides replaying and rehearsing the story of whatever has caused us such heartache, we are able to be more present to the painful emotions in our bodies and to offer those to the Divine in prayer.
In the process of opening ourselves to both our internal anguish and the Divine, we find ourselves in the presence of the Divine in a way that goes beyond words, beyond our stories, beyond our pain.
It may not make our pain disappear, but it does remind us that we never carry it alone as we open ourselves to Divine in such an emotionally naked way. That in itself is a healing gift.
The regular practice of using prayer beads creates the habit that allows us to sink into this kind of contemplative space with ease so that we can take refuge in it when we need it.
When have you had the experience of dropping below the words of prayer to sink into a contemplative space of laying yourself bare to the presence of the Divine?
Have you used prayer beads to help you access that kind of space?