More and more people are making their own sets of prayer beads and using them to structure their prayers. An article in the Grand Rapids Press, in Michigan, examines the phenomenon by talking to some of the beading faithful, including two Grand Rapids sisters who were running a small beading business. They watched demand for the beads grow exponentially after they started their shop in 2001, possibly as a result of the events of that September. Another of the women in the article, author Kimberly Wilson, recently wrote a book about prayer beads that traces the origins of rosary prayers as well as noting the near-universality of prayer beads as traditions in other faiths.
Says Wilson, in the article:
"I always had difficulty making everything stop," she said of her prayer life. "The physical nature of them, when I held them, I found I could concentrate on the intention of my prayer, rather than be distracted by the million things that distract me in a day."
Like Jenista, Winston doesn't use Catholic prayers. She doesn't even use a Catholic version of the rosary. She uses an Anglican rosary, which has four seven-bead "weeks" instead of five 10-bead "decades," as in the Catholic version. And while there are set Anglican prayers for that rosary, Winston goes free form.
Sometimes she just holds one bead per each deep breath. Lately, she's been using Scripture: "I lift up my eyes unto the hills," said on every bead.
The key shift was in her attitude. With traditional intercessory prayer, "you put yourself in the position of begging. With prayer beads, I can come to God with myself and my intention of just being with God. I'm not asking for anything, but I'm aware of his strength."
With prayer beads, "the goal is to focus your mind on communicating with the divine."
You can read the whole thing here.