Lutherans pray the rosary? But I thought that was just for Roman Catholics!
Yes, some Lutherans do pray the rosary. Like the Anglicans/Episcopalians, the Lutherans have rejected fewer traditions of Christian worship than groups like the Baptists. And so, there is some tendency for these groups to use forms of devotion that most Protestants say are ‘too Catholic.’
When I was a Lutheran, I prayed the rosary. I modified the Hail Mary prayer to leave off the second part— the part that says ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’ I felt a little guilty about praying the rosary since I was Lutheran, so I only ever told one other Lutheran. She prayed the rosary too— and she didn’t modify it.
One year the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USA (ELCA)— that’s the liberal Lutheran body in the USA— published a little thing about saying the ‘Lutheran rosary’ for Lent.
This Lutheran rosary is much like the traditional rosary, but for the Hail Mary beads one says the Jesus prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.’ You meditate on the mysteries, which are the same as the traditional ones, except for the final two of the Glorious mysteries. In this Lutheran rosary, the Assumption of Mary is replaced by The Communion of Saints, and the Coronation of Mary in Heaven is replaced by The Heavenly Jerusalem. The Luminous mysteries added by Pope Saint John Paul II are not mentioned.
At the end of this Lutheran rosary, where traditionally one would say the ‘Hail, Holy Queen’ prayer, you are given a choice. You may say:
1. The older version of the Hail Mary, which they call the pre-Trent Hail Mary. OR
2. Part of the Magnificat, OR
3. Martin Luther’s Evangelical Praise of the Mother of God.
To read the full instructions, go here: http://www.giftsofaith.com/Files/lutheranrosary.pdf
Note, 3-16-2018: The above link is no longer active. If you can find it on the internet somewhere else, please let me know in a comment. I want to make sure the material stays available to those looking for it.
Another link that IS currently working is this: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-lutheran-rosary.html
If you are a conservative Lutheran, perhaps a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, you may wonder if it is only the liberal Lutherans that allow the Lutheran rosary or any other rosary. On a site called ‘Ask the Pastor’ I found an answer to that question: http://xrysostom.blogspot.com/2008/09/do-lutherans-use-rosary.html
The short form of the answer is that the Lutheran rosary and the traditional rosary are not forbidden by the LCMS Lutherans.
My personal opinion is that if one is starting to pray the rosary, it is not a bad idea to stay as close to the traditional rosary (Catholic rosary) as you can. There are many illustrated booklets produced by Catholics that have a picture illustrating the mystery and a brief meditation or appropriate Bible verse. There are also audio and video rosaries and scriptural rosaries— with a Bible verse for every single Hail Mary in the rosary.
While there are probably more Lutherans who pray the traditional rosary than that use the new Lutheran rosary, this rosary is a good tool for Lutherans (and other Protestants) who want to add the rosary to their devotional life without worry that they are doing something that is ‘too Catholic.’
Another post of interest:
Do you pray the rosary? Do you know of any non-Catholics who pray the rosary? What do you think about the Lutheran rosary?
I am at work at on a short ebook about the Lutheran rosary, which will be available soon. If you have experience with the Lutheran rosary, please comment below, especially if you have something to say about your own practice of this devotion.