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Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer Beads


I am 16 years old. Recently due to a lot of medical setbacks i haven't been my full self. I can no longer walk or eat along with much more ,what i call, medical nonsense. Because of this set back, I cannot leave my bed and haven't been to church in nearly 3 months ( I attended a mutual once but I got really sick after and my condition got worse). Usually when I am sad i cook or clean, but for obvious reasons I cannot do that. I once owned a CTR ring, which i would always twiddle with when I was nervous or concentrating, but I misplaced it when I visited a friend from out of town.

After watching the movie "Eat. Pray. Love", I saw prayer beads and loved the idea of them. That they are meant to take away bad energy and stress and bring serenity (I am half Japanese so I had heard of them before in Buddhist customs from my dad's side, but didn't understand the idea) something I need at home when I am in pain or when I am having some work or procedure done and am nervous.

My mom gave me a cross (she came from a catholic family and it is an old family heirloom) in the mean time to bring with me for my next doctor appointments just to help me spiritually until my Grandma finishes my prayer beads.  (She too is a Mormon and is making them as an effort to help me in any way she can.)

I was wondering, however, is it sacrilegious for a Mormon to use Prayer Beads for a meditation purpose?

What if a Mormon were to use a Rosary?

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!


- Wondering

Dear Wondering,

"Sacrilegious" is treating a Holy Noun (person, place, thing or idea) as if it isn't holy (or sacred). I believe that Good People treat the Holy Nouns of others with respect, even if they don't subscribe to the sacredness of that particular item. While I'm a Latter-day Saint, and as such am a Disciple of Christ, I would never defile another faith's parish, statue or icon; it's disrespectful, and certainly wouldn't speak well of me as someone who should be representing the teachings of Jesus.

So, to use "prayer beads" for the purpose that they're are intended, unless that culture feels that such items should only be used by faithful members or members of the clergy (for example) would not be disrespectful, and therefore not sacrilegious.

Now, for various reasons, old Bro Jo is familiar with several world religions and cultures. (Perhaps that's not a surprise.) You may not know that the "purpose" of a Rosary is to keep track of certain pre-scripted prayers as one says them in a certain quantity and progression.  Rosary beads also are to remind the user of certain events in the Gospel, or other things as denoted by the Pope.  As you've noted, other religions use prayer beads, too, some even calling them a "rosary".

As a Latter-day Saint, I believe that prayer should follow the pattern that Christ set, being guided by the Spirit, and not using the exact words recorded or written by another, except in the case of performing an ordinance (like the Sacrament Prayer). That is, as taught:

1. Open by addressing Heavenly Father (for it is Him and only Him to whom we should pray)

2. Thank Heavenly Father for that with which he has blessed you and others (all good things come from God, and to be thankful is to be humble)

3. Ask Him specifically for what you need (but acknowledge that it is our will that needs to bend to His, not the other way around)

4. Close in the name of Jesus Christ (for it is through His atonement that we call can return to live with Heavenly Father again)

Do I think it's "okay" for a Latter-day Saint to use the sacred objects of other religions to help them remember the Savior and His sacrifice on our behalf?

Well . . . I don't know that I see anything wrong with it (although I'm sure not everyone agrees with me), other than I think it might pull one's focus away from Christ and the Church and on to things that are not Gospel centered. Remember, the focus should be on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, not another person or object. Please ponder how that applies in this situation.

You're dealing with some pretty big trials right now, and I don't know what God's will is for you, but I believe in miracles, I believe in healing, and I believe that as hard as they are, our trials here are but a blink in the eternal scheme of things.

I hope you've received a priesthood blessing, and encourage you to ask for one if you haven't already.

If those symbols bring you and your family comfort and help you focus on the Savior, then I personally think it's fine. If I were in your shoes and a non-LDS grandma brought me a statue or object that she thought would help me, and if that item didn't detract from the Spirit I needed to feel and the Gospel I needed to remember, I'd display it out of gratitude and respect for her.

Now, that said, over the years I've received a few presents that represented either other religious cultures (including a couple "heirlooms") and some things that advertised products or things that aren't in keeping with LDS culture (like R-rated or otherwise inappropriate movies and TV shows, alcohol containers, and even pictures of family in places or doing things that weren't good examples of the Word of Wisdom).  None of those things can be found in our home.  Some of the "heirlooms" are safely packaged away, lest the giver ask about it some day.  Most of the stuff is . . . gone.

Not to be ungrateful, except for the items given with the intent of dragging my family from "the oppressive LDS Church", most items were given out of sincerity; but Sister Jo and I want people who enter our home to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our family is LDS.  We don't display much, but we hope that what people do see on our walls, bookshelves and in other places throughout our home, won't lead them to question our faith or sincerity.

We hope.

Were I in your shoes, the things I would want near me to help me remember the important spiritual things might include:

- A picture of Christ (I prefer the ones where he's living, or resurrected, instead of those that focus on his death, but that's me)

- My scriptures (not just a reminder, but something to read as well)

- My wedding band (which reminds me of my eternal covenants with Sister Jo)

- Pictures of my family (whom I plan to be with for time and all eternity)

- My Temple Recommend (a reminder of covenants I've made and the Spirit I've felt)

And, as an endowed member of the Church, I would of course be wearing my garments which remind me of many aspects of the gospel. (If surgery or hospitalization or some other circumstance, prevented me from wearing them, I'd want them close.)

Remember, though, that while they can help us focus on the Savior, it's not an object that truly releases stress and helps us spiritually heal; it's Him.

I hope this helps a little.

Please know that I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. Trust the Spirit.

May you be blessed with what you need,

- Bro Jo

PS: You can find some interesting, and perhaps insightful, articles online regarding the religious symbols of other faiths through the Church website. Simply go to and in the "search" bar type in "rosary" - or anything else you're curious about - or click on this link HERE.

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