For this last week before Holy Week, I had planned to compile some prayers for prayer beads on the theme of hunger and loneliness. That’s kind of what I have been feeling lately, as winter sits – and sits and sits. But then the sun came out and I thought, that would be a bummer! I didn’t want to pray about hunger and loneliness while I was sitting in the sun in my backyard (where I am right now!) for the first time this year. So I looked for warmth and the light instead.
Looking for inspiration, I opened a book that’s been on my shelf for a while, but that I haven’t really delved deeply into. And what I read inside really seemed like a reflection of the sun – straightforward, direct and inclusive appeals to the Almighty. The book, A Prayer Book for the 21st Century by John McQuiston II. McQuiston is an attorney in Memphis, Tenn. and a layleader in his Episcopal congregation. He has written a couple of other books, including one on the Benedictine way.
McQuiston describes himself as a “panentheist“ – one who believes that God is so absolute, so enormous, so mysterious that “he” transcends all our ideas and knowledge and is just too huge to confine to images like “father,” “shepherd,” “light,” etc. God transcends all we know and all we can see and all we are. God is.
“When one says, ‘I believe in God,'” McQuiston writes in the introduction, “it means, ‘I believe that the Unconditional, the Ultimate, the Divine, is present in all and is All — all of life, all persons, all creatures, all the universe, and I believe there is more than we can perceive or comprehend, a dimension beyond the apparent world of time and space.”
In the body of the book, McQuiston rephrases some of the great Psalms, prayers and services of the church to reflect this vast idea of God. The result, for me, is a much closer idea of how I think of God – as neither male nor female, as unlimited, and, most important to me, as universal in “his” love of all people, regardless of their individual creeds.
So here is a set of prayers for the Anglican/Episcopal prayer beads or Catholic rosaries based on McQuiston’s prayers. Say them around three times before returning to the cross or terminal charm, where I suggest you finish with the Lord’s Prayer. If you are using a Catholic rosary, say a prayer of your choice on the three “Hail Mary” beads on the rosary’s stem. When you return to the medal at the end, say a prayer of your choice.
The Weeks/Decades prayers are drawn from several of McQuiston’s “concluding prayers.” There are 10 – one for each bead in the Catholic rosary’s decade. If you are using an Anglican/Episcopal rosary, which has seven beads in this segment, say prayers 1-7, or choose seven prayers you like the best from among the ten. If you are using a different form of prayer beads, you may choose and use any prayers you like, in any order that suits you and your beads.
On the Cross, Crucifix or Terminal Charm:
Teach me, Creative Power,
Give me understanding,
And I shall keep your way (Psalm 119: 33-34)
On the Invitatory/First and Second Our Father Beads:
Everyone who abides in love, abides in God and God abides in them.
As God is, so are we in this world.
[If you are using a Catholic rosary, say prayers for the three “Hail Mary” beads here before repeating the prayer above for the second “Our Father” bead.]
On the Cruciform/Our Father Beads:
For this is to live the life eternal: to experience our indivisible relationship with God (John 17:3)
On the Weeks/Decades Beads:
1 – Eternal Progression, where I am, you are.
2 – What I feel, you feel.
3 – What I think, you think.
4 – So transparent is my unity with you that my eye and your eye are one eye and one seeing.
5 – In awe, I confess that what I do, you do.
6 – Assist me this day to be worthy of you.
7 – Help me to share your love with all I touch this day.
(8) – Help me to merge my spirit with your spirit,
(9) – To live life as an end and not a means.
(10) – So that today I may offer care and compassion to every person.