Despite large differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, praying the rosary has the same purpose: to reflect deeply on the mystery of God. Among Protestants, however, some sects, including Baptists and Presbyterians, not only don't pray the rosary, but also discourage the practice because they believe it is blasphemous to give Mary the title of "Holy" and to pray repetitively. Protestants who pray the rosary use a different rosary and set of prayers from the ones Roman Catholics use, except for Lutherans, who use the Roman Catholic rosary but with modified prayers.
Praying the Lutheran Rosary
Make the sign of the cross, then grasp the crucifix and recite the Apostles' Creed. To begin praying the actual rosary, hold the bead closest to the crucifix and pray Our Father. Moving up the chain, the next three beads require the Jesus Prayer. In the space between the fourth and fifth beads, pray the Doxology before praying Our Father on the next bead. Move in a clockwise motion, praying Our Father on one bead and the Jesus Prayer on ten beads; pause to hold the chain, reflect on the joyful mysteries and say the Doxology. Repeat this cycle around the rosary, changing only the joyful mysteries you reflect on -- the first joyful mystery for the first cycle, etc. When you reach the end of the rosary, hold the medal that's just above the fifth bead on the chain. Pray something of your choosing or the pre-Trent Hail Mary, or both, and then move back to the crucifix. To finish, cross yourself and say: "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Praying the Anglican rosary follows a different path, as the beads are in four groups of seven, symbolizing the weeks in a month. There is also no set group of prayers to follow -- Anglicans can choose the prayers most meaningful to them. Start by holding the crucifix and say one prayer, then move to the bead right above and say another prayer. The next bead, one of four large ones, is called a cruciform bead. Move counterclockwise and say one prayer for each bead. When you finish making a circle around the rosary, repeat it two more times and finish with a prayer on the crucifix. Prayers most commonly used are either the Lord's Prayer or the Cross.
Other Protestant denominations, like Methodists and Episcopalians, use the same rosary as Anglicans. Prayers, though, differ according to denomination. Episcopalians should pray using the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, and Methodists are encouraged to use prayers from the Methodist Book of Common Prayer. The differences between the various common-prayer books are slight and reflect the differences in each denomination, such as the use of either grape juice (Methodism) or wine (Episcopalianism) during the Holy Eucharist.
Items you will need
- Anglican prayer beads for Anglicans, or the Roman Catholic rosary for Lutherans
- The prayers the Apostles' Creed, Our Father, Jesus Prayer, Glory be to the Father, and Five Joyful Mysteries (Lutheranism)
- Book of Common Prayer, or other prayers of worshipper's choosing (Anglicanism)
- Gifts of Faith: A Lutheran Rosary
- King of Peace: Anglican Prayer Beads
- Wiley Online Library: Using What's at Hand: English Catholic Reinterpretations of the Rosary, 1559–1642; Lisa McLain
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Methodism
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA)
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images