I think if we are honest with ourselves, the main battleground in quiet, meditative prayer and Bible reading, is our wandering minds. It has been wonderful, several times a week to gather with a few others and prayerfully, meditatively read scripture. We gain wonderful insights and blessings from approaching this discipline communally. But it is in those moments of silence, when I should be pondering profound passages like, "But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves" (Luke 22:26), that my mind wanders to what I need to pick up at the store later, what's coming up class work-wise, or sometimes I'm on the brink of falling asleep. It is at those times that I feel a bit like one of those sleeply disciples Jesus scolded for not being able to stay awake while he prayed in Gethsemane.
Yes, I know God is gracious and merciful and knows my heart, but it is exasperating how difficult it can be to be fully present to hear what almighty God wants to say. When I first heard about the Anglican/Protestant rosaries, I wondered if this could be helpful, but never followed through. Last weekend at the retreat, I found out one of my friends now makes them. Once again I toyed with the idea and decided to take the plunge.
Concerning the beads, Kimberly Winston wrote, "The physical act of grasping a bead, of rotating gently between the fingers, of feeling it, will anchor you to the words of the prayer attached to the beads...If you feel your mind wanderting, squeeze or hold the bead tighter. Your attention will come back to the presence of God" ("The Anglican Rosary," adapted from Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads).
Now I have not given much time to this practice yet. Today is really the first time that I consciously made use of them with morning prayer and scripture reading. Seeing that it's still pretty early and I haven't finished my first cup of coffee, I have to say they have helped to bring my attention back to the Lord. So we will see how this goes. By the way, the picture is of my beads that I bought last weekend. May God guide each of us as we seek to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.