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Franciscan Spirit Blog

Why Pray the Rosary?

Apr 11, 2018
Rosary and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Many great popes, saints, and Christian leaders have exhorted us to pray the rosary. It’s a powerful prayer, they say, one that can change your life, strengthen the family, bring peace to the world, convert entire nations, and win the salvation of souls.

But does the average person experience the rosary this way?

Many Catholics, unfortunately, have the impression that the rosary is not relevant for them. It might be a sacred prayer for very religious people—priests, religious sisters, and exceptional Catholics—but not for “an ordinary lay person like me.” Even some devout Catholics admit that they are a bit intimidated by this prayer. They have tremendous respect for the rosary, know it’s important, but feel bad that they don’t love it more. Many view it as the marathon of Catholic devotions. “I know it’s an important prayer, but it takes fifteen to twenty minutes. I’m too busy. I don’t have time for that.” “It’s too hard to stay focused for that much time. I prefer shorter prayers.”

Some have questions about the rosary: Does all this attention to Mary distract us from a relationship with God? Why do we repeat the same prayers over and over? Are we supposed to concentrate on the prayers, the mysteries, or both? Still others think the rosary is just plain boring—a monotonous, dry, mechanical way of talking to God, not as personal and meaningful as other forms of prayer. “It’s like taking the garbage out for your wife. You know you should do it, but date night is more exciting.” “Sure, the rosary might be good for you—like flossing your teeth—but it’s not as interesting and meaningful to me as spiritual reading or adoration.”

Others wonder if all the repetition has any meaning. “I know the rosary is important, but it just seems like rote prayer,” one young adult said. “It’s like saying magical words and something good is supposed to happen. What’s the point? Is simply saying these words actually doing anything for me spiritually?”

But what if I were to show you that there is a lot more going on in the rosary than simply saying these words and counting them with beads? What if I were to tell you that the rosary is not beyond you—that you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God, can actually experience a profound, intimate, personal encounter with Jesus through this devotion? And what if you were to discover that there are many different ways to pray the rosary—indeed, some that can easily fit within your schedule and help you with whatever challenges you face right now in your life.

Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the rosary.


Getting Your Feet Wet

If the rosary is not a part of your regular prayer life right now, it’s easy to get your feet wet with this devotion. Here are five key things you need to know to get started.

First, we don’t have to pray the rosary all at once. Sure, some people might sit down and quietly pray a whole rosary in one sitting. But we can also choose to divide it up, saying just a decade or two at a time at different points throughout the day: on the way to work, in between errands, in between meetings, while folding laundry or doing dishes. Many holy men and women and even popes have prayed the rosary this way and have found it manageable and fruitful for their busy lives.

Second, we can pray it anywhere! The rosary is like a portable chapel we can keep in our pocket and pull out anytime, anyplace. Whether we have a sudden, urgent situation to present to God in prayer or we just want to fill some of our day with thoughts of God, all we need to do is pull out our beads and turn to the Lord in this prayer. Indeed, the rosary is always accessible.


We might pray it in a church, in our room, in our office. Or we might pray it in the car, on the exercise machine, in the grocery store line, or while cutting the grass or going for a walk. Bringing our hearts into the rhythm of the rosary is something we can do intermittently throughout the day.

Third, we can pray the rosary in different ways, customizing it to fit the needs of the moment. Sometimes we might focus on the words of the prayers, thinking, for example, of Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady as we slowly say with great devotion, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” At other times, we might reflect on the mysteries of Christ’s life, prayerfully contemplating scenes such as his birth in Bethlehem, his transfiguration, or his death on the cross, etching the Gospel on our hearts. At still other times, we might focus on the holy name of Jesus at the center of each Hail Mary, speaking his name tenderly with love as the pulse of our rosary.


Two and-a-Half Minutes That Can Change Your Day

Fourth, it’s easy to fit the rosary into your schedule. Do you have two and-a-half minutes in your day that you can give to God? This is the beauty of the rosary.

If I need a quick pause in my busy life—just a two-and-a-half-minute break—I can pull out my beads and pray a decade in order to regroup with the Lord and be nourished spiritually. That’s all a decade takes: one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be. I can do that easily, pausing for a moment in between emails, in the car, in my office, in between meetings, in between errands. I don’t even have to stop some things I’m doing: I can pray a decade while cooking dinner, sweeping the floor, holding a baby, or walking to my next appointment. 

If an urgent need comes up in the day—someone is in an accident, I’m about to begin a big project, my spouse is having a rough day, I have an important decision to make, I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, my child is taking an exam—I can say a quick decade right on the spot. In just two and-a-half minutes, I can offer a special gift to God—one decade of the rosary—for that particular intention.

Fifth, even if I’m not able to give the rosary my full attention, it’s still worth praying. I might not always be able to completely unplug mentally from the concerns of the day. I might be exhausted, too tired to pray well. I might be distracted and unable to reach the heights of contemplation. But still, the words themselves are biblical and holy. Offering God a decade or two in the midst of my daily life gives him something beautiful, even if I give it without my full, relaxed, undivided attention. I’m giving God some space in my day and filling it with words of praise for him.


Going Deeper

But the rosary can take us deeper—a lot deeper. When we pray the rosary in its ideal setting, doing a whole set of mysteries, the prayer can slow us down, calm our hearts, and enable us to rest in God’s presence. It draws out the deepest desires in our souls, desires for God and God alone.

The rhythm of the repetitious prayers can have a profound spiritual effect. In this, it is much like the traditional “Jesus Prayer” many early Christians recited: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They would slowly repeat these words over and over again throughout the day, such that the rhythm of this prayer was linked to the rhythm of their breathing.

As John Paul II explained, this loving repetition “embodies the desire for
 Christ to become the breath, soul and all of one’s life” (RVM, 27). In the same way, the repeated prayers in the rosary help us get more in touch with the deepest desires in our souls for God.

We as human persons are made with infinite desires that only God can fulfill. But because we’re fallen, we tend to live at the level of our superficial desires—desires for comfort, fun, fame, wealth, pleasure, success. These desires are not bad, but the rosary helps us be more aware of the soul’s deepest desires, which are for God. As St. Catherine of Siena taught, the greatest gift we can give to God in prayer is not the finite work of saying the words but our “infinitely desirous love” for God that is expressed in those words and that is being drawn out of our souls in prayer.

How might this happen in the rosary? As we’ll see more in my book, when we pray the rosary, we can focus on the name of Jesus at the center of every Hail Mary. We can simply speak Jesus’s name with fervent, heartfelt love. We can gather all our desires into that one word, his beautiful, holy name. And with each Hail Mary, we can call out to him, like a lover speaking to the beloved: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus...Jesus...Jesus.” 

Click here for some of our favorite prayers!

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before


Sun, 10/18/2020 - 06:35 AM
Thank you for the explanation, especially about the repetition of the prayers! I'll be sharing this with my catechism class :)
Sun, 04/18/2021 - 04:25 PM
Loved the article, I’ve gone back to it. Now, you say you can pray the rosary in your office. It’s ok with people around?
Annie Morgan
Sun, 11/07/2021 - 05:34 PM
Annie Morgan
I assume you don't have to pray it loudly, and if you need to hold the actual beads, you can do it in your pocket! Quiet, professional, but still counts, since prayers are meant to be private with God! :)
Sun, 11/15/2020 - 05:12 AM
Very clear and helpful explanation. I dont feel so guilty now .
Mon, 02/22/2021 - 03:11 AM
It has taken me a while to concentrate and approach prayer via the rosary to fulfill my need for a meaningful relationship with God... but has so been worth it. Thankyou
Tue, 02/23/2021 - 03:05 PM
I just returned to the Catholic faith of my childhood, and the rosary is new to me. This helps a LOT! Thank you. I’m going to start with a decade here and there.
Sun, 03/28/2021 - 10:41 PM
Wow — a truly magnificent article. I’ve wondered if I can say my rosary while driving or folding laundry. This answers my question. And your statements on saying just a decade, or really focusing; so good to read.
Mon, 05/03/2021 - 03:59 AM
Enjoyed you explanation very much. Please explain why some say “ A pair of Rosaries” and not a “Row of Rosaries” Thank you for your article. I see it so differently now. Blessings Betty
Wed, 05/26/2021 - 10:05 AM
I do a lot of praying the rosary while driving. It keeps me very composed and calm. During long travels, i can pray three to four complete mysteries. And i always feel, protected and my travel, complete.
Wed, 05/26/2021 - 03:03 PM
A good explanation that gives insights into how to pray the Rosary. I learn that so long as one puts his mind in praying the Rosary whether with distractions or not, there’s an intimate relationship and connection with our Good Lord.
Sat, 05/29/2021 - 05:00 PM
Thank you for explaining the rosary and the different ways to pray it. I used to get anxious if I didn't have time to pray the whole thing before I started my day. It's good to know that praying a decade takes only two minutes and can be said while in the midst of things. Thanks again.
Mon, 08/09/2021 - 08:44 PM
I really learnt something new today about the Holy Rosary that I have been ignorant of , which is when praying the Rosary, there is a need to meditate on every mystery, which brings in to play, full connection with God and I have been given full insight on it...
Tue, 08/17/2021 - 11:42 PM
How can praying the rosary help when our country and the world around us is faced with so many complex, overwhelming issues. I want to turn to the rosary but feel lost.
Fri, 08/27/2021 - 03:26 AM
I am a catholic and have experienced the power of rosary but for long time I stoped praying it I have recently returned to it and have started experiencing inner joy and peace. This explanation shed more light on the important of praying rosary. I now understand that we are not praying to Mary but meditating on the power and mercy of God through Mary to us. I am strengthens by the above explanation. Thanks.
Jesse Stone
Sun, 09/05/2021 - 03:50 PM
Jesse Stone
The Rosary is not a toy. It’s a serious combat tool against the evil one according to Catholic history, doctrine, St. Louis de Montfort, and Mary of the Fatima incident. One can’t just practice the Rosary while driving in a car without eventually incurring disastrous consequences. That is, if it’s the true Marion Rosary. There are two aspects to the Rosary that are to be practiced simultaneously, that is, at the same time. There is the prayer aspect (Our Father, the Hail Mary, etc) and the meditation aspect (on the Mysteries). In my experience, I know of no one who does the Rosary in this manner. They just practice the prayer aspect. A few will say a short sentence encapsulating the mystery that comes before a decade of Hail Marys, effectively adding it to the Hail Mary prayer so that in a practical sense they are still only practicing the prayer aspect apart from the meditation aspect. This can be done while driving a car without ill effect. It would be like talking to a passenger in the car while driving. But this is not the Rosary. It’s called the Rosary, it’s a Rosary, but its not the true Marion Rosary that was effectual in major historical eras such as – the era of St. Dominic, the era of Blessed Alan de la Roche, and the era of Pope Pius V. Today, many prestigious individuals are promoting the “Rosary” and many “pray the Rosary”, while the Church continues to be in serious crises. Why? The Rosary is not a toy.
Jesse Stone
Mon, 09/06/2021 - 04:21 PM
Jesse Stone
In “The Secret of the Rosary” Montefort said, “119. In order to pray well, it is not enough to give expression to our petitions by means of that most excellent of all prayers, the Rosary, but we must also pray with great attention, for God listens more to the voice of the heart than that of the mouth. To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer would show a great lack of respect and reverence; it would make our Rosaries unfruitful and make us guilty of sin. How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect him to be pleased if, while in the presence of his tremendous majesty, we give in to distractions, like a child running after a butterfly? People who do that forfeit God's blessing, which is changed into a curse for having treated the things of God disrespectfully: "Cursed be the one who does God's work negligently." Jer. 48:10.”
Kristine Christlieb
Sun, 11/21/2021 - 06:41 AM
Kristine Christlieb
At, we pray the Rosary every morning. We do what is called a Scriptural Rosary, reciting passages of Scripture associated with the mysteries of that day. As a Catholic convert from Protestantism, I find this method the most comfortable. It takes a bit longer, but I find it more meaningful.
Tue, 12/07/2021 - 10:41 PM
I started really focusing on the rosary in my 20s, solely in the form of novenas. It was a revisiting of my personal relationship to God and the catholic faith, with a particular connection with the heart of Mary. Each time, I met a a graceful pause and felt a spiritual miracle in my heart. Sometimes the novenas felt robotic; other times I felt completely enraptured by each of the mysteries and met a deep tearful purification…in truly meeting the sacrifice of Jesus in my heart and the pain and devotion of Mary in those sorrowful moments of their sacrifices. It’s a miracle to let yourself go to the rosary and to feel the heart between your fingers on the beads. I’ll never forget receiving a light message in the form of “not being able to move” while receiving an answer to a question I felt deep in my heart. These are the graces I feel have connected me more deeply as a spirit and a human.
Sun, 03/13/2022 - 04:03 PM
I do believe in the power of praying the Holy Rosary. The devils are afraid of this.
Thu, 03/24/2022 - 02:57 PM
I grew up Catholic but I've never prayed a rosary. I truly know nothing about it other than alot of our fathers and alot of hail Marys. I've been wanting to come back to Christ and figure out how to get closer to God. I've been wanting to try the rosary but knowing myself, I'm pretty sure that I'd get bored with all the mindless repetition of the 100 or whatever hail Marys and our fathers. Thus causing my mind to wander toward whatever. I'm sorry to say this but that's what my mind does. Is there some kind of short cut where I just spew off something like 7 hail Marys and 7 our fathers or something? I'm actually about to read this article with hopes to get answers. 😁
Block Rosary
Sun, 05/01/2022 - 04:19 PM
Block Rosary
Thanks For This Wonderful Writeup Its Indeed Educating
Fri, 09/23/2022 - 08:13 PM
Prayer is about "intention". So if we pray with a pure heart, and become conscious of what we pray, knowing all the while God knows our "intention" it is like returning to the divine presence that ever listens and answers us. Psalm 139.
Fri, 09/23/2022 - 08:15 PM
And I say unto you Jesse Stone, accusing the divine of castigating our human frailties is wrong.

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