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Posts Tagged ‘Protestant prayer beads’

We have less than two weeks until book #2 – Another Bead, Another Prayer: Devotions to Use with Protestant Prayer Beads – goes to print. According to Upper Room Books, it will be available January 2015. Max (my husband and coauthor) and I are so excited to share this book with you!

Cover design for Another Bead, Another Prayer

Max is the author of a blog called Word Wonderings. In today’s post he shares lessons he’s learned through this process of collaborating on a book about prayer. I wanted to share his blog, which gives you another chance to get to know him.

Another Prayer and Praying One Another’s Prayers, by Max Vincent

My wife, Kristen, and I are nearing the end of the edits on the first book we have written together, Another Bead, Another Prayer. The heart of the book is a collection of 28 different devotions and meditations to use with protestant prayer beads. As we began drafting the book, we simply split up the prayers, each writing 14 different meditations and devotions. It has been a fun, rewarding, and, at times, challenging task. As we near the stage of publication, I can look back and see some important lessons I have learned about prayer in this process.

(Continue reading here.)

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A few weeks ago I inaugurated my new Beads and Books series with Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork. This book is so profound that I found myself thinking about it and rereading passages for weeks after I had finished reading it.

I shared with you some of my favorite quotes from the book, but here is my absolute favorite:

You have made me so rich, oh God, please let me share out Your beauty with open hands. My life has become an uninterrupted dialogue with You, oh God, one great dialogue. Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised toward Your heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. At night, too, when I lie in bed and rest in You, oh God, tears of gratitude run down my face, and that is my prayer. (p. 332)

Etty wrote this in her journal from Westerbork (a transit camp), just days before she and her family were loaded onto trains and sent to Auschwitz. Surrounded by the darkest pain, the most visible signs of suffering, and the knowledge of her own impending death, Etty was able to stand in the midst and proclaim her gratitude for God’s rich beauty. She was able to do this because, as she said, her life had become “an uninterrupted dialogue” with God. Her entire life had become a prayer.

Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum

That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 17 when he wrote, “Rejoice always. Pray continually.” At the time of his letter it was illegal to be a Christian. Churches were having to meet in secret, and many followers of Christ were being persecuted. There were definite periods of darkness. To sustain their faith, Paul encourages his readers to pray without ceasing. Doing so would make their entire lives about prayer, enabling them to “rejoice always,” even – and especially – in the hardest of times.

We all face periods of darkness at various points in our lives. I know I’ve had my share. And I can’t say I spent much of that time rejoicing, primarily because my prayer life wasn’t strong. But that is changing. Little by little, day by day, I am learning to make my life about prayer. I’m taking time to pray and listen and read and express my gratitude. I’m looking for signs of God’s presence in the ordinary moments and people and experiences of my life. And I’m reading about the saints, including a Dutch Jew who, in the midst of the Holocaust, was able to proclaim God’s rich beauty.

It’s a process, one that takes time and is not always easy or perfect. But if it leads me to see God’s grace in times of pain, then I will count it time well spent. And I will thank God for Etty and her profound testimony.

Cross: God of beauty,

Invitatory Bead: you are both gracious,

Resurrection Bead: and ever-present.

First Cruciform Bead: You have made me so rich.

Week Beads, Set 1: Use each bead to consider the ways in which God has made you “rich,” and to offer thanks.

Second Cruciform Bead: I want my life to be a constant prayer.

Week Beads, Set 2: Use each bead to consider how your life can become a ceaseless prayer to God, and to ask for God’s help in this.

Third Cruciform Bead: Help me to see your presence – in every place, in every person, in every moment, to understand that you are always with me, and to offer gratitude.

Week Beads, Set 3: Use each bead to see, listen for, and feel God’s presence as your life becomes a prayer.

Fourth Cruciform Bead: Take my life of prayer and use it to proclaim your rich beauty to the world.

Week Beads, Set 4: Use each bead to pray that God will use you to testify to God’s presence in both darkness and light. 

Resurrection Bead: For it is by your Son, Jesus,

Invitatory Bead: that we come face to face with you in all your glory,

Cross: Amen

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Today’s post is the beginning of a new series called Beads and Books. These days I am reading so much good stuff on prayer, prayer beads, being still, etc. that I want to share with you. I’m hoping this will open up a dialogue between us as you share your favorite books as well.

The book I want to share today is Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork. My current favorite writer, Robert Benson, referenced this book at one point and, obedient Robert Benson disciple that I am, I decided to read it. I will be forever thankful that I did. Etty’s book is one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. Ever. Definitely one of my top ten books of all time. It is absolutely stunning.

Etty was a Dutch Jew during World War II. An aspiring writer, this book is a combination of her journal (written from her apartment in Amsterdam), as well as letters she wrote from Westerbork. Westerbork was one of the transit camps where Jews were held before being sent to the extermination camps. Many editions of this book include only the journal, however, I highly recommend the edition that includes both. The journal and letters together form a complete picture of Etty’s life from 1941 to 1943, when she was killed at Auschwitz at the age of twenty-nine.

Etty’s deep faith is the most striking element of this book. As it begins, the Nazis occupy Amsterdam and for the most part, the Jews are still free to go about their daily lives. But over time you see how the Nazis take over, segregating the Jews into ghettos and loading them into trains bound for concentration camps. Throughout this, Etty’s faith in a just and loving God remains steadfast. As a result, Etty is able to:

  • pray for the German soldiers:
    • “I knew at once: I shall have to pray for this German soldier. . . we understand that German soldiers suffer as well. There are no frontiers between suffering people, and we must pray for them all (p. 156).”
  • release hate:
    • “All I really wanted to say is this: we have so much work to do on ourselves that we shouldn’t even be thinking of hating our so-called enemies (p. 211).”
  • feel safe no matter where she is or what is happening:
    • “I don’t feel in anybody’s clutches; I feel safe in God’s arms, to put it rhetorically, and no matter whether I am sitting at this beloved old desk now, or in a bare room in the Jewish district, or perhaps in a labor camp under SS guards in a month’s time – I shall always feel safe in God’s arms (p. 176).”
  • recognize that each of us has a responsibility for peace in the world:
    • “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world (p. 218).”

Etty was clearly well-respected in her community and moved in some of the influential circles. This afforded her many opportunities to hide from the Germans or leave the country. As a member of the local Jewish Council, she was able to delay going to Westerbork. But Etty declined these offers. She wanted to go to the camp.

Did you catch that? Let me say it again: Etty wanted to be sent to a concentration camp.

Can you imagine?!?

She explained this was because, “It still all comes down to the same thing: life is beautiful. And I believe in God. And I want to be there right in the thick of what people call “horror” and still be able to say: life is beautiful (p. 226).” Etty recognized the extent of the suffering in the camps. She knew people would give up hope and possibly even give up their faith in God. Etty wanted to be with these people and witness to God’s comforting presence. As she wrote, “We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds (p.231).”

On the day Etty and her family members were loaded into trains bound for Auschwitz (where they would be killed), Etty wrote a quick postcard and threw it out the window. The card read, “We left the camp singing (p. 360).”

This is why I find this book so stunning. I pray that I would have even an ounce of such grace and gratitude and peace of mind in the face of unspeakable horror. Or in the face of a scary diagnosis, or the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. I pray that, surrounded by darkness, I would be able to say, “Life is beautiful. Thanks be to God.”

It is possible. Such deep faith is not just for the saints. It is available to every one of us, fed by prayer, pure and simple. It is fed by time with God, talking and questioning and listening and wailing and being quiet. It is fed by that joy we talked about the other day, recognizing God’s presence everywhere.

Whether you have prayer beads or not, I hope you will take time to pray and feed your faith. And may you be able to say with a quiet confidence, “Life is beautiful. Thanks be to God.”

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We did it! Thanks to your support and votes the Christian Small Publishers Association has named my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads, their 2014 Book of the Year in the Christian Living category. How cool is that?!?

A Bead and A PrayerAward_Seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am deeply humbled by this honor and so appreciative of your encouragement and response to the book. I’m also thrilled because I know this award will help even more people learn about prayer beads and how they can enrich their prayer lives.

Kudos to Upper Room Books. This award honors their hard work, vision, and gorgeous publication as well.

Glory to God!

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A baby has been born in the City of David. The angels of called us to come and adore him. He is worthy of adoration because this tiny, vulnerable baby is God in human form. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is God’s greatest expression of love for us, the sure sign that God wants to save us and be in a relationship with us.

So come, let us adore him, and experience the gift of peace.

Cross: God of Christmas,

Invitatory Bead: thank you for loving us so much,

Resurrection Bead: that you would send your son Jesus to live among us.

With each bead: take time to thank God; to sit quietly in the stable with Mary and Joseph and gaze lovingly at Jesus; to listen to the choir of angels proclaiming his glory; to consider how much God loves you; to accept this gift of peace and think about what it means for your life. Sit for as you long as you can or as long as you need to to experience this true gift of Christmas.

Peace,

Kristen

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Welcome to all of you who learned about us from The Upper Room! The response to our Prayer Workshop in the current edition has been incredible. Clearly, there is great excitement about the possibility of using beads to deepen our connection with God! We are thrilled about that!

Currently, I am attending Session #3 of The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation and will be home tomorrow. Once I get settled and have time to get back into the studio I will write a new prayer bead devotion. I will also write some posts on the history and symbolism of the beads to help you get familiar with this new – yet ancient – prayer practice.

In the meantime, I wanted to welcome you and answer a few questions that many of you have been asking:

1. Can I purchase your prayer beads? 

Absolutely! We love to create and share our prayer bead designs, which are available for purchase at http://www.prayerworksstudio.etsy.com. However, the response from The Upper Room article has been so great that we have currently closed our website to give us time to create new designs and catch up on orders. We will reopen the site on Sunday, February 3, 2013.

For those of you who cannot wait, we certainly understand your excitement and desire to get prayer beads as soon as possible. Plus, we know that we cannot begin to meet the need for prayer beads for all of you, since we are one family who works out of our home. For that reason, we would encourage you to look at other shops and websites as well. Many Episcopal churches have gift shops that sell Anglican prayer beads, and there are many websites where you can purchase prayer beads. I would also recommend a friend and fellow artisan, Christine Stanton, who owns Prayer Bedes. I have long been a fan of her work; she has a gorgeous aesthetic and a deep faith in God.

2. Can I make my own prayer beads?

Absolutely! Making your own prayer beads is a wonderful activity! You are using the creative gifts that God has given each of us to create something meaningful and that aids your prayer life. That is all good! I have included instructions for making your own prayer beads below.

3. How do I use prayer beads?

The good news about prayer beads is there is no right or wrong way to use them! I have provided some basic information on our page, “Prayer Bead Basics.” I encourage you to review that to get familiar with the Protestant (or Anglican) prayer bead format. Also, one of the basic prayers I use when teaching people how to use prayer beads is called “The Full Circle Prayer.”

Along the right side bar of this blog is a list of categories for our blog posts. All of the ones that begin with “Dev” are devotions I have written for use with prayer beads. I encourage you to browse through them to get a sense of the myriad ways you can use beads in prayer.

Again, I will write more when I return home, but for now, I want to welcome you. I am thrilled that you are interested in learning new ways to be with God.

Peace, Kristen

Instructions for Assembling Your Prayer Beads

Materials Needed

  1. 5 large Cruciform beads
  2. 29 medium Week beads
  3. 36 small seed beads
  4. 1 cross
  5. 2 crimp tubes
  6. about 2′ of wire (I recommend 49-strand, .19 or .18″)

Tools Required

  1. 1 pair of chain-nosed pliers
  2. 1 set of wire cutters

Instructions

  1. Place one crimp tube on the wire.
  2. Thread the wire through the cross
  3. Fold about 1″ of wire back towards the cross and through the crimp tube (the crimp tube should now be up against the cross, with one long wire and the 1″ of wire both coming out of it)
  4. Use the pliers to flatten the crimp tube
  5. String the beads in the following order, taking them all the way down so that the first bead is lined up against the crimp tube that sits above the cross (note: make sure the beads cover both of the wires—the primary wire and the extra piece that extends from the top of the cross):
    1. 1 seed bead
    2. 1 Cruciform bead
    3. 1 seed bead
    4. 1 Week bead (optional)
    5. 1 seed bead (optional)
    6. 1 Cruciform bead
    7. 1 seed bead
  6. String the second crimp tube
  7. String the following beads:
    1. 1 seed bead
    2. 1 Week bead
    3. Repeat steps a and b 6 more times
    4. 1 seed bead
    5. 1 Cruciform bead
    6. Repeat steps a to e 2 more times
    7. Repeat steps a and b 7 more times
    8. 1 seed bead
  8. Take the end of the wire and thread it back through the crimp tube that was added in Step 6 (the wire will be heading back towards the cross).  Thread it through the crimp tube, the seed bead, the Cruciform bead, the seed bead, and the Week bead so that it comes out from the bottom of the Week bead.
  9. Pull the wire tightly, adjusting the beads as necessary to remove any slack in the wire and to ensure that the wire is completely covered up by the beads.
  10. Using a pair of flat-nosed pliers, smash the crimp tube as tightly as possible.
  11. Using a set of wire cutters, cut the remaining wire off as close to the beads as possible.
  12. Enjoy your beads!  Blessings!

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