Breathing with Prayer Beads

Prayer

This is part two in a three part series on prayer beads.  You can find the first week here:  Making Mini Prayer Beads

Breathing with Prayer Beads

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When I first started doing yoga under a teacher, she told us that the most important part of a yoga practice was learning to breathe.  I thought that this sounded crazy.  I had gotten into yoga to feel better, to get stronger, to become more flexible, and to lose weight.  None of that had to do with breathing!  However, several years down the road, I have found that she was right.  Breathing, connecting to the Holy Spirit, is the most important part of yoga, and really has the most lasting effect on my body, mind, and spirit.  This prayer bead practice will help you to connect to the breath at times and in places where it is just not feasible to roll out a yoga mat.

STEP TWO:  Learning to Breathe

After my car accident, the first thing that I had to do was to learn how to breathe again.  Pain had left me taking shallow, quick breaths, and I didn’t have the concentration to retrain my breathing on my own.  Putting beads in my hand and putting this seemingly simple exercise into the mode of prayer or connecting to the Holy Spirit helped to ground me.  It only takes about a minute and a half, and I have still found it to be a great way to prepare to pray, even after most of the effects of my accident have passed.

 

  1. First, I take the time to arrive. Most of the time, I find that my body arrives in a place before my mind or my heart.  If you would like to use essential oils on your lava or wool bead, now would be the perfect time to apply them (it only takes one drop, and some oils absorb better than others).
  2. I sit in a comfortable position that enables me to take a deep breath. I hold the beads in both hands and take the time to notice them.  What do they look like?  Feel like?  Smell like?  Sound like?  Once you have arrived and feel fully present, move to the next stage.
  3. I begin this stage by holding the section of beads that includes the cross and lava bead in my hand. This is a time to remember who I am addressing, or connecting to, in my prayer.  I take the time to hold the cross and think about God as Son.  What is it like to know that God is your brother?  That he lived on this earth, and felt pain, cold, hungry, thirsty, tired?  That he fully knows my human experience because he experienced it for himself?
  4. Next, I hold the small wooden bead above the cross and think about the Holy Spirit. How is the Holy Spirit showing up in the things of every day?  What is it like to know that God is as near to me as my next breath?
  5. Third, I hold the lava bead and think about God as Father. What is it like to know that God is my loving parent, who made all things, and still sustains my life?
  6. Next, I hold the three remaining smaller beads together, and ask God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be fully present, and to help me to be fully present, as I take the time to breathe.
  7. The next part is the intentional breathing part. I take one full, deep yoga breath for each of the next seven large beads.  You can hold each bead still, or move it along the cord, or twist it in time to your breath, whatever helps you to stay fully present.  This is the main part of the prayer, and takes as long as you need it to.
  8. When I arrive back at the smaller beads, I take some time to rest and breathe. God rested on the seventh day of creation, and calls us to rest and renew and rejuvenate, as well.  I usually continue to breathe at this place until I feel done, though you might choose to do the circuit of large beads two times, four times, seven times, etc.
  9. I conclude by holding the section that I started with, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and concluding with “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” You are welcome to pray in any way that is appropriate to your tradition.

 

I hope that this practice of breathing with prayer beads helps you connect to the Holy Spirit in a deeper way.  Peace be with you!

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Making Mini Prayer Beads

Prayer

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For the past few years, I have enjoyed an almost daily yoga practice.  It helps me to feel stronger, more flexible, and like I am taking the time to do something important for myself each day.  More importantly, however, my yoga practice has become my prayer time.  Connecting to my breath, stilling my mind, and letting God speak to me has become more important to me than any of the other benefits that got me into yoga in the first place.  Last summer, I was even able to continue my practice on the road, and so I was entering the fall feeling grounded and connected and ready to put a whole lot of energy into whatever God had in store for me next.

Then, August 15th happened, and I narrowly avoided a high-speed head-on collision.  Both myself and the driver of the other car were able to walk away from the accident, but the deployment of air bags messed up my left shoulder, both in the front and in the back.  Suddenly, I wasn’t able to stretch my arm over my head, let alone bear the physical demands of a yoga practice.  Because of the constant pain, I felt like I couldn’t even take a deep breath.  And because of the seeming randomness of the accident, I was too angry to really want to speak to God at all.  And things sort of fell apart for a while.

As my physical therapy began, and the pain began to lessen, and I had some time to process the accident, I realized that, although I could not yet practice yoga, I was really anxious to begin connecting to God, praying, again.  After trying some of my old standbys (coloring prayer, Praying in Color, breath prayer), I returned to a prayer practice that I hadn’t done in some time:  prayer beads.  When I had learned prayer beads in the past, it included upwards of forty beads to individually pray, and, at this point in my recovery, that was too intimidating.  For those of you who are Roman Catholic, they are like a set of rosary beads, but patterned on an Episcopal method of praying the daily offices with verses of scripture.  What follows is the practice that I developed for a mini set of prayer beads, which was far more manageable for me at the time (and a bit more portable, as well!)

STEP ONE:  Making the Beads

I believe that if you are going to use something to pray, the making of it should be a holy experience as well.  Take the time to notice what you are doing.  Be fully present.  What do the beads look like, smell like, feel like?  What do they sound like as you string them together?  Are they hard or soft?  Warm or cold?  Rough or smooth?  Stop and say a little prayer as you complete each section.  Pray when you snip off the loose ends.

Materials needed:

    1. 21” length very thin hemp cord (you can use what pleases you, but this cord makes knots that stay and has a pleasing sound when the beads slide over it.  I got mine at Walmart.)  prayer beads cording
    2. 1 small 7/8” wooden cross bead  (available for purchase here:  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B073XHFMSS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )
    3. 1 – 14 mm natural stone lava bead (this is for essential oils.  You can also use a natural wool ball.  Available for purchase here:  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01COPTBYO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )
    4. 2 small 10 mm round unfinished wooden beads (available for purchase here:  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MXRWYT9/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )
    5. 2 medium 14 mm round unfinished wooden beads  (available for purchase here:  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MXRWYT9/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )
    6. 7 large oblong wooden beads (mine came from a church member who bought them for me for 25 cents a bag at a thrift store.

Instructions:

  1. String about 3 inches of the cord through the top of the cross bead.  Tie three knots (one for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).  prayer beads step 1.jpg
  2. String both ends through one of the small wooden beads. Tie three more knots (one for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).  prayer beads step 2.jpg
  3. String the long end of the cord through the lava or wool bead. String that same end through the next small wooden bead, one medium bead, all seven large beads, and the last medium bead.  prayer beads step 3.jpg
  4. Go back through the small wooden bead that is between the first medium bead and the lava bead. Tie three more knots (one for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).  prayer beads step 4.jpg
  5. Clip the loose ends of the cording.  prayer beads step 5.jpg

Now that your prayer beads have been fashioned, you have lots of choices as to how to use them in prayer.   prayer beads complete.jpg

Two blogs posts will follow with the practices that have been the most helpful for me.

 

#jesusbirthatoz Week 3

#jesusbirthatoz, Advent, Coloring Prayer, Labyrinth, Prayer

If you are reading this, you probably already know a little something about the birth of Jesus.  You know about shepherds, and angels, and a manger, and some Wise Men.  It might be such a familiar story to you that you barely even hear it when you gather with friends and family to light candles and sing Silent Night.  But do you know the whole story?  The story surrounding Jesus’ birth, and all of the people who waited for his coming and celebrated his birth?  From now until January 21, our parish is going to read through the whole story, from beginning to end, verse by verse, day by day.  Each day, there will be a few verses from the Bible, a focus image, a couple of questions, and a prayer.  You can receive these devotions in church, one week at a time.  I will also be posting them daily on Instagram and Facebook, if you prefer the digital version.  Here, on Good God Ideas, I will make them available one week at a time in pdf form.  God bless your journey from the throne to the manger to the throne!

The Story of the Birth of Jesus Devotion Book Week 3

Need weeks one and two?  You can find it here:  https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/jesusbirthatoz-week-1/
https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/jesusbirthatoz-week-2/

Week Three:  Mary’s Vision

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Coloring the Small Catechism: The Lord’s Prayer Petitions 1-4

Coloring Prayer, Reformation 500

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation this fall, we will be working our way through Luther’s Small Catechism.  Our ELCA publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, has released a beautiful Study Edition that includes line drawings for each part of the catechism suitable for coloring.  If you are a member of our parish, all children and youth will receive their own copy.  If you are an adult, you are welcome to contact the Pastor to purchase your own copy.  If you just can’t wait, you can purchase a copy online here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/22231/Luther-Small-Catechism-Anniversary-Study-Edition  By the end of the fall season, you will have the opportunity to pray and color in most of the book.

Week Nine:  The Lord’s Prayer Petitions 1-4

For the ninth week , we will focus on the first four petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.  You can find illustrations for these on pages 35-38 of your book.  Here are what my completed coloring prayers look like:

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Hallowed be thy name.

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Thy kingdom come

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Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.

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Give us this day our daily bread.

May God bless your prayers during this season of renewal!

Coloring the Small Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Communion

Coloring Prayer, Prayer, Reformation 500

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation this fall, we will be working our way through Luther’s Small Catechism.  Our ELCA publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, has released a beautiful Study Edition that includes line drawings for each part of the catechism suitable for coloring.  If you are a member of our parish, all children and youth will receive their own copy.  If you are an adult, you are welcome to contact the Pastor to purchase your own copy.  If you just can’t wait, you can purchase a copy online here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/22231/Luther-Small-Catechism-Anniversary-Study-Edition  By the end of the fall season, you will have the opportunity to pray and color in most of the book.

Week Eight:  The Sacrament of Holy Communion

For the eighth week (which is also All Saints Sunday), we will focus on the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  You can find illustrations for this on pages 50 & 55 of your book.  Here are what my completed coloring prayers look like:

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May God bless your prayers during this season of renewal!

Coloring the Small Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism (and Luther)

Coloring Prayer, Prayer, Reformation 500

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation this fall, we will be working our way through Luther’s Small Catechism.  Our ELCA publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, has released a beautiful Study Edition that includes line drawings for each part of the catechism suitable for coloring.  If you are a member of our parish, all children and youth will receive their own copy.  If you are an adult, you are welcome to contact the Pastor to purchase your own copy.  If you just can’t wait, you can purchase a copy online here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/22231/Luther-Small-Catechism-Anniversary-Study-Edition  By the end of the fall season, you will have the opportunity to pray and color in most of the book.

Week Seven:  The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

For the seventh week (which is also Reformation Sunday), we will focus on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and Martin Luther.  You can find them on pages 70 & 80 of your book.  Here are what my completed coloring prayers look like:

May God bless your prayers during this season of renewal!

Coloring the Small Catechism: Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed

Coloring Prayer, Prayer, Reformation 500

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation this fall, we will be working our way through Luther’s Small Catechism.  Our ELCA publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, has released a beautiful Study Edition that includes line drawings for each part of the catechism suitable for coloring.  If you are a member of our parish, all children and youth will receive their own copy.  If you are an adult, you are welcome to contact the Pastor to purchase your own copy.  If you just can’t wait, you can purchase a copy online here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/22231/Luther-Small-Catechism-Anniversary-Study-Edition  By the end of the fall season, you will have the opportunity to pray and color in most of the book.

Week Six:  The Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed

For the sixth week, we will focus on the second article of the Apostles’ Creed.  You can find them on page 30 of your book.  Here are what my completed coloring prayer looks like:

May God bless your prayers during this season of renewal!