The important thing to remember when creating a rosary, or prayer beads of any kind, is that you are engaging in a spiritual discipline, and as such, attention and intention are required. Richard Rohr writes that “spiritual disciplines have one purpose: to get rid of illusions so we can be present. These disciplines exist so that we can see what is, see who we are, and see what is happening. On the contrary, our mass cultural trance is like scales over our eyes. We see only with the material eye.” (Everything Belongs, the Gift of Contemplative Prayer, 31). The creating of a rosary, and the praying of a rosary, are attempts to remove the scales from our eyes.
— Candice, quoting contemplative retreat leader Richard Rohr

Suggested Themes for Creating Prayers for the Protestant Rosary

There are simply endless ways to work with the basic Anglican/Protestant rosary as it is laid out. The wonder of it is that you can bring to the process whatever prayers speak to your own spirituality. Having said that, as you will have observed from my own adventure into creating rosaries, simple is best. When the set-up gets too complicated, pull it back, and re focus. The ideas below are ones I would like to test out. But it is best to work with your own interests and needs when creating a personal rosary. And too, as you have seen in my samples, there really is no rule about staying within this set pattern. You can create your own.

Praying the Lord’s Prayer and its Variations

  • Marcus Borg’s beautiful rendition “Eternal Spirit, Earth Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver (The Heart of Christianity)
  • The many Aramaic translations (Prayers of the Cosmos)

Working with the Pithy Phrases of the Desert Fathers

Julian of Norwich’s Prayer

“And all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” With that as the main prayer, four of her other prayers could surround it. 

Lyrics of Favourite Hymns

So many of the lyrics for hymns are perfect pieces of devotional poetry, prayers come alive in song. Making simple strands of prayer beads with children might work well with children’s hymns. My own choices would be:

  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Great is Thy Faithfulness
  • Abide with Me
  • Teach Me God to Wonder
  • Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling

Celtic Themed Rosary

  • J. Philip Newell has lovely Celtic devotional books with short phrases, prayers, and scriptural references. A rosary of found materials, or more natural beads would tie in with the Celtic pastoral focus.
  • John O’Donohue’s book of blessings, To Bless the Space Between Us, is filled with  exquisitely crafted blessings of varying lengths. The blessings cluster around themes - custom made for rosaries.
  • Esther de Waal’s book, The Celtic Way of Prayer The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, is full of possibilities.

Focus on Jesus

  • John Dear assembled all the questions Jesus asks in the scriptures in his book The Questions of Jesus, Challenging Ourselves to Discover Life’s Great Answers.  They might make an interesting set of prayers.
  • Jesus Loves Me This I Know. Not bad for some clear focus.
  • ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ – now that’s a great rosary theme.
  • Jesus' words of assurance and peace

The Spiritual Exercises

  •  The First Principle and Foundation of the Exercises, annotation 23, would be a good place to begin. "We must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honour to dishonour, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. Our one desire and choice should be what is more conductive to the end for which we are created." 
  • Louis M. Savary, who wrote The New Spiritual Exercises, In the Spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, begins in a different place with The Exercises. His First Principle and Foundation reads: "You were created to make a unique contribution to the great evolutionary project initiated and continually supported by God, namely bringing all creation together into one magnificent conscious loving union." His short pieces of thought and prayers would make a good base for a rosary. 

Biblical Texts

  • The Beatitudes
  • 1st Corinthians 13.
  • Philippians 4: 4 - 8
  • Psalm 139
  • 10 Commandments with Aaron's Prayer as a repeat

The Twelve Steps

  • In each of the twelve steps of AA there is a prayer. I wonder that a set of prayer beads might be helpful to learn them all, with some repetitive prayer in between. I think I would like to do this one.
  • Or you could do all the steps, with a favourite 12th step prayer within it.
  • The 11th Step prayer is the St. Francis of Assis prayer, which would adapt very easily to a rosary

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer

  • This is a treasure trove for those who prefer more formal prayers - beautifully sculpted, with the patina of long tradition. 

Hildegard of Bingen, Matthew Fox, and Thomas Berry

  • All three provide prayers, mantras, and writings from which to create a rosaries of prayer for the universe

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

  • Short phrases from key teachings with a personal prayer in between, or the Jesus prayer. This is my desert island book. 


Rainer Marie Rilke's Work

  • Such beautiful writing, it is all poetry and prayers. 

            This is the one I would work with:

“You, darkness, of whom I was born…

I love you more than the flame

That limits the world

To the circle it illumines

And excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:

Shapes and shadows, creatures and me, 

People, nations – just as they are.

It lets me imagine

a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.”