The rosary prayers are commonly dismissed as ‘just for Catholics,’ but the devotion pre-dates the formation of the Lutheran and other Protestant churches at the Reformation; not only that, the rosary continued as a private devotion, especially among European Anglicans and Lutherans.
It’s certainly more of a Christ-based practice than getting into Transcendental or Eastern meditation using a ‘mantra’ derived from Hindu or Buddhist religious practice.
Many Protestants do use the rosary. When I was a Presbyterian child, I looked in the window of a Catholic church, seeing a rosary in the hand of a statue of Mary, and I counted the beads and tried to reproduce a rosary of my own in knotted string, since I didn’t know anywhere that one could buy a rosary. In college, at the Lutheran Concordia College, I managed to sneak away to a Catholic store in downtown Chicago and buy a rosary and an instruction leaflet. I prayed the rosary in my dorm room. I felt a bit guilty and unlutheran for doing it, and so I confessed to a Lutheran-from-birth friend that I prayed a modified rosary. She may have been a bit offended— she prayed her rosary unmodified.
One of the unique things about the rosary that sets it apart from similar non-Christian meditation is the use of mysteries. Mysteries are a group of Biblical events to think about (meditate upon) while you are reciting the words of the rosary. There are Catholic leaflets that have a small illustration for each rosary mystery.
Commonly one prays a group of 5 mysteries each time one prays the rosary. For each mystery, you say 1 Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, 10 Hail Marys (or substitute the Jesus Prayer), and end with one Glory Be (to the Father.) Catholics sometimes add the Fatima prayer after the Glory Be, but this is a modern addition.
The Joyful Mysteries are prayed on Mondays and Saturdays, and are optional for Sundays during the Advent/Christmas season. These mysteries tell the story of the birth and childhood of Christ.
The Sorrowful Mysteries are prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays, and are optional on Sundays during Lent. These mysteries tell the story of the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.
The Glorious Mysteries are prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays. They tell the story of the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and some traditional events related to the end of Mary’s life on earth, and her going to heaven. These mysteries, being outside the scriptures, are often modified in Protestant use.
The Luminous Mysteries are a new addition to the rosary, made by Pope Saint John Paul II. They are prayed on Thursdays. (Before this, the Joyful Mysteries were prayed on Thursdays, and the Glorious Mysteries on Saturdays.) These mysteries are not part of the common Christian heritage of the rosary, but since they are all Bible-based stories about Christ (Christ’s baptism, the wedding at Cana, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper), they are easily able to be used by Protestants as well as Catholics.
The advantage of having the Mysteries is that when you are reciting the prayers of the rosary and your mind starts to wander or daydream, you have the mysteries to force your mind back on a more prayerful track. I myself, as a person with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) am very distractible, and so I usually keep a leaflet with pictures illustrating the rosary mysteries on hand when I pray the rosary. Keeping my eyes focussed on the picture help me keep my mind on track.
Posts on this blog related to the Lutheran rosary and Protestant rosaries: https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/category/western-civilization/christianity/lutheranism/lutheran-rosary/
My earlier posts on the Lutheran rosary are the most popular ones on this blog. I have decided to post a series of posts related to the topic on Saturdays. The next few will cover the four groups of rosary mysteries, and then we will move on to the prayers of the rosary. Next Saturday (God willing): the Joyful Mysteries