How to Pray the Rosary

Praying the Rosary is a prayer method that engages our hands, voices, minds and souls as we prayerfully contemplate the life, miracles and ministries of Jesus Christ all the way to His death and resurrection through the illumination of his mother Mary’s heart.

How to do this prayer practice.

 1.  Start with a set of rosary beads and find a good place to pray.

As shown in the picture above, a rosary consists of 59 beads and a crucifix.  It is divided into five decades with ten beads in each.  Each decade is separated by a single bead to make it easier for the person praying to know when they are finished with the decade. Each decade represents an event in the life of Jesus.  There are four sets of events called mysteries  (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious) totaling 20 events.

When we pray the rosary we are actually meditating on the life of Jesus through the eyes of his loving mother, Mary. The entire rosary is a prayer of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  What better way to come to know and imitate our Lord than to meditate on the mysteries of His life!

To begin the rosary, make the sign of the cross.  Holding the crucifix in your hand (in above picture see #1), pray the Apostle’s Creed (see links below for the words to all of the prayers to the rosary).  This is the basic statement of faith of the Christian church. Towards the end of the Apostles Creed we claim to believe in the Communion of Saints.    This belief states that all the holy men and women here on earth and those who have gone before us are working together for the Kingdom of God.

This belief leads us to intercessory prayer (which is exactly what the rosary is) because, in faith, we know those who have gone before us are as alive and involved in building the Kingdom as those who are still here on this earth! (James 5:16; Rev 5:8, Tobit 12:12 Rev 8:3)

Moving your fingers to the first bead (in above picture see #2) pray the Our Father, the very same prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray.  Moving your fingers to the next three beads (in above picture see #3) pray three Hail Mary’s.

Did you know that the entire Hail Mary is scriptural?

*Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with you: Luke 1:28

*Blessed are you among women: Luke 41; Luke 1:48

* Blessed is the fruit of your womb: Luke 1:42

*Holy Mary, Mother of God: Luke 1:43

*Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death: Luke 2:35; John 2:5

Next, pray Glory be to the Father 
and to the Son
 and to the Holy Spirit.
  As it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be,
 world without end.
 Amen (in above picture see #4).

Now you will begin the five decades entering into the life of Christ by meditating on one of the mysteries. A decade consists of 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s and 1 Glory Be.  (In above picture see #6-8) After the completion of each decade, you recite the “Fatima Prayer”:

O my Jesus,

forgive us our sins,

save us from the fire of hell,

lead all souls to heaven,

especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

By the end of the rosary as you move from bead to bead, praying the Our Father’s, the Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s; you will have meditated on 5 events in the life of Christ.  Each full mystery takes about 20 minutes.  Some people pray an entire rosary (all four mysteries) every day.  Some choose to pray just a mystery a day, while others pray only a decade a day.

2.     As you repeat the prayer patterns meditate deeply on the Scriptures that make up the prayer.         

I was taught how to pray the rosary as a young child.  It wasn’t until recently though that I really began to understand the significance and the power in the rosary.  I found the more my heart desired to imitate the heart of Christ, the more I leaned on His mother, Mary to show me His heart.

I soon discovered the rosary was not just a repetition of prayers but an entrance in the life of Christ.  The rosary takes you through His entire life from His conception, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to His miracles and ministries as He walked the face of the earth, all the way to His death and resurrection.

To learn more about the mysteries using scripture, go to this website

My Personal Tips and Experiences

My favorite time to pray the rosary is in the morning before the rest of the family gets up!  Praying the rosary is like my cup of coffee!  I can’t think of a better way to start the day than meditating on the life of Christ. 

I am convinced that no one knows my seven children better than I do (except for their heavenly Father, of course).  No one knows a child’s heart better than their mother.  For it is from the love of a mother’s heart the child’s heart is formed and begins beating to the tune of her heart.

Through the heart of the Blessed Mother, Mary, I have come to know the heart of her Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  No one except for the Heavenly Father knows the heart of Jesus better than His mother Mary.  Because we are called to unite our hearts to His Sacred heart, who better to help us get to know His heart than His mother.

In addition to utilizing the rosary to come to know the heart of Christ better, I also pray the rosary for special intentions.  For example, if someone close to me is struggling with something in their life, or has asked me to pray for something specific for them, I will begin my rosary by offering it up for their request.  I also offer my rosaries up for our country, the conversion of sinners, my family, community, church, the end to pornography etc.  Rather than being specific by asking for a particular favor so to speak, I ask that Mary takes these requests to our Lord and that His will be done.  Then, always asking for the grace to accept His will.

Our Lord went to His mother for guidance and assistance while He was here on earth.  Because of our belief in the Communion of Saints and our desire to imitate our Lord we too can go to Mary for guidance and assistance.  When we share our needs with Mary, she takes them to her Son.  We ask her to intercede and pray for us or our loved ones in our daily spiritual and material needs especially at the hour of our death when the temptations of the devil are the strongest since that is his last chance to capture our soul. (Rev 2:10)

I find it interesting how the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus taught us, and the Hail Mary, both end with an appeal to deliver us from the evil one.

The Biblical or Historical Roots of this Prayer Practice:

The use of prayer beads goes way back to the Middle Ages.   The rosary is said to have evolved in the 12th century where the 50 Hail Mary’s were linked to the psalms. It was during the 16th century that the structure of the five-decade rosary based on the three sets of mysteries came about.  Just recently in 2002, Pope John Paul II updated the rosary by adding the fourth set of mysteries the Luminous Mysteries.

All through the ages, many miracles have been reported due to the intercessory prayers of the rosary.  Below is a list of books and websites for more information on the rosary, how to pray the rosary, what to pray the rosary for, miracles of the rosary and where to purchase rosaries.

Miracles linked to the Rosary 

Rosary Products

Purchase Rosaries

Pray the Rosary with others around the world  

Rosary to end pornography by Laurie Flanigan

Suggested reading:  
Grant Us Peace: Rosary Meditations for Those Who Mourn (Holy Cross Family Ministry) [Paperback] by Beth Mahoney

Copyright Laurie Flanigan 2012 all rights reserved