How to pray the rosary

Many Christians pray the rosary even if they’re not Catholic.  Here’s some tips for rookies.

Don’t think about the words of the prayer.

You should only pray a rosary if you have all the required prayers well memorized.  You should be able to say them without thinking about it.  Instead, you should be meditating on the mysteries.  Meditation consists of deep thought.

Remember, formulaic prayers (like the Our Father) are not really the kind of prayers that God favors.  They are models for other prayers.  You should compose new prayers frequently.  Most of the time, you should pray from the heart (saying whatever comes to mind).

But having a dialogue with God is not the purpose of the rosary.  And rosaries are neither for the purpose of saying a certain prayer 50 times.  It benefits no one to simply recite something 50 times.  On every bead, you should not only say the required prayer, but you should think a thought about the mystery you’re on.  Meditate on the mysteries.  That is the true purpose of the rosary.

Stress the name of Jesus.

When you are praying the Hail Mary, remember that the name of Jesus appears smack-dab in the middle of the prayer.  You should say the name of Jesus with a special reverence.  Try to sound like a charismatic preacher when you say the name of Jesus by saying it loud and with emotion.  This is how the Pope prays his Hail Maries.

Avoid idolatry.

If you are trying to avoid idolatry by praying to saints, replace the Hail Mary with another prayer.  I recommend the Anima Christi.  It is better to pray to Jesus.  I will include the prayer here:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within thy wounds hide me. (or: Hide me in your wounds.)

Suffer me not to be seperated from thee (or: Never let me be seperated from you.)

From the malignant enemy defend me. (or: Protect me from the evil one.)

In the hour of my death call me.

And bid me come unto thee, that with all thy saints I may praise thee forever and ever. (or: And call me to follow you, so that I may worship you in the company of all your saints.)

This is a beautiful prayer to Jesus.  Sometimes, I say this prayer on the Our Father beads, and I say the Our Father on the Hail Mary beads.  That way, I can pray to God the Father 10 times a decade instead of only once. (A decade is a section of the rosary.  There are 5 decades in a full rosary.)

It is okay for a Christian to pray to Mary.  But you can’t exercise the same faith reserved for God the Father.  You just have to hope that she can hear you and will pray for you, like the Hail Mary requests.  The only legitimate purpose of praying to Mary is to ask her to pray to God for you, just like you might ask a family member or friend to pray for you.  She is close to God and will pray for any Christian who asks her to.

The beginning of the Hail Mary is from the Gospel of Luke, so you can feel like you’re reciting Scripture (Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42).  Don’t worship her when you say these things, though.  Catholics say to venerate and to not adore.  I say take it one step further.  Don’t even venerate.  When you venerate, there are feelings of worship in your heart that should only be expressed to our Heavenly Father.  Simply say the prayer and hope that she prays for you.  Remember that you should be meditating on the mysteries, anyway.  The majority of the mysteries are all about Jesus.

There are four exceptions.  The last 2 mysteries of the Glorious set are mysteries for Mary.  That’s the only time you need to meditate on Mary.  And the first 2 mysteries of the Joyous set are, arguably, meditations on both Jesus and Mary.  You see, Jesus is yet to be born in those mysteries.  Sometimes I replace these mysteries with other mysteries.  It can be easy to fall into a trap of worshiping Mary when you mediate on these mysteries.

The Hail Holy Queen at the end may lead many to idolatry.  Try replacing this prayer with the Universal Prayer.

Pray for a better rosary experience

Before you begin your rosary, offer a freestyle prayer (like you should do every day).  Ask that your mind may be opened and that you will receive deep, spiritual thoughts when you meditate on the mysteries.

How to get started.

If you need a guide on how to pray a full rosary, and you don’t know the prayers involved, click here.  There are also links to thoughts you can think about the mysteries.  Just click on the set of mysteries you’re doing (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous).  Remember that on every bead you should think a different thought about the mysteries.  That’s 11 thoughts per decade (one Our Father bead and 10 Hail Mary beads).


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