Beads on the Body

More and more often I tend to have my beads somewhere on my body. Generally they are hidden in a pocket. I have tried them in various places and found them uncomfortable, itchy, or the wrong length to wrap around my wrist. I also want them to be brought to my attention often, as I will explain below. So they get tucked in a pocket, which is a shame because I think they might make a good/easy/convenient conversation starter that could lead into matters of faith. But my goal isn’t perfection faithfulness is.

What I have found is that beads in my pocket serve me as a reminder that I intend to be a godly person, insofar as I am able. 

But what does this look like in practical terms?

When I am walking around and someone cuts me off, speeds on my street, or whatever, I am now just as likely to hold a prayer bead and offer a prayer as I am to swear and curse the person out (mostly in my mind of course). For me, at least, 50-50 odds are a major improvement:) In this way I become a gentler person and pray more for the my neighbours, both of which are long-term goals of mine. 

I also find that when I am walking and a situation comes to mind, a work thing, a family matter, how the government has irritated me today…whatever, if my hand happens upon my beads I feel called to prayer. It doesn’t happen every time and I spend an embarrassing amount of time brooding, but when my hand touches the beads I pray for the situation and the people involved, I pray for my kids and wife and politicians, I pray for my church, my community, and the planet. My point is: prayer, in my life, happens far more when I have the beads in my pocket than when I don’t. 

There is nothing magical about the beads, but I do find that setting out with an intention (to live a godly prayerful life) is bolstered and helped by the concrete earthy tangible reminder of the beads. They could be anything, I just find the beads work for me. For you it could be a small cross, a pendant, a bracelet, just so long as it is something that comes to mind from time to time, able to break into the thought-flow of your day and call you back to the intention you set out with to begin.  

If you are up for it, find an item you can use this way, and for the next 21 days set the intention in the morning to be reminded of your godliness whenever the item is drawn to your attention. If it helps continue the practice, if not, move on to something else you think might help you grow. 

Praying for Family Using Beads

I know this will shock you but despite being a pastor I am perfectly capable of lacking motivation for prayer. 

When it comes to motivation I find it most helpful to avoid generic prayers, as in prayers for situations everyone knows about and is praying about (the earthquake, the elections, poverty, etc.). As much as I know we are called to pray about such matters, and as much as such matters are important and need the covering of God, I have often found I am not passionate enough about them to remain motivated to pray for long. 

Maybe you aren’t like me in this, that would be fantastic, and I would encourage to keep on praying!

For the rest of us there is a solution!

The people I care about most, the people I love, the people I live with, or have spent much of my life living with, need my prayers. Whether their current circumstances are exceptional (graduations, weddings, funerals, broken hearts) or just the ho-hum daily stuff, I want them covered in prayer. I find this motivational, maybe you will too.

Where do the beads fit in?

Here is what I do because the beads are physical reminders and help me hold the intention I have set. 

I use the cross (you can use a large or coloured bead if you have no cross) to thank God for my family and ask him to hear me as I pray and to guide my mind so that I will think of all the elements in a persons life that are appropriate for the day and of all the people who most need my prayers today. Generally this will help me move from the most specific prayers for those closest to me to the most general prayers, like for a politician or something. 

Then I use a large bead to thank God for my spouse. I always start with my spouse, our relationship gets top billing, that’s just how it is. I offer various prayers for her as I move from small bead to small bead. If my mind wanders the beads draw me back. Moving from little bead to little bead has me thinking of what I know is going on in her life and soul; beyond the importance of prayer covering her, I believe it makes me a better partner, more caring and aware than I otherwise would be (not that I am great, just that I am aware I could be worse and worse is always at the door, that’s part of living this side of the River:). Maybe this will happen to you as well.

Praying for her this way I also find myself watching her and her life so as to know more about what to pray for her, again you might find this sort of prayer helps you study those you love more closely, which is a good in itself. Anyways, each time my finger moves to a new bead I pray about a different element in her life. The final little bead before the next big one (or coloured one) I use to pray for forgiveness for where I have hurt her, been short with, etc. and that I would forgive her the little slights that naw at me (mostly these are totally unfair on my part and have more to do with me than with her, but being open with God about it seems good to me). It is a cleansing practice that, again, I believe helps me in my efforts to be a decent spouse. 

I repeat this pattern of large/coloured bead being a prayer of thanks for someone, small beads being prayers for situations in their lives, last bead repentance and confession. 

After my wife I move to my kids. Wife and kids, they get daily prayers. When it comes to my kids I pray about circumstances they find themselves in and also about the character traits they are showing and how to discern as their father what to encourage and what to try to restrain, and my hopes that they will walk lives of faithfulness. Sometimes I even pray about their future ability to be spouses of integrity. 

After the family is taken care of I really need the Holy Spirit got get working so as to know who to pray for next, it’s funny starting with my family motivates me too pray for many more people and situations. At any rate, I use each large bead to signify a new person, I trust the Holy Spirit to know who else in my life story I need to pray for, sometimes my parents/grand-parents, sometimes even old roommates, you just never know who will come to mind, but I trust they are in need to prayer and so I go through the little beads thinking of them. 

It’s pretty simple. I hope it helps.