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Apr 22, 2020

Tips and Saintly Wisdom for Praying the Rosary Well

Jeannette Williams

“The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is…that cannot be solved by the Rosary.”

Sr. Lucia dos Santos, Fatima visionary

These are powerful words from the woman who received the Fatima messages from the Blessed Mother herself. But if you’re like me and you struggle to focus when praying the Rosary, you may feel like it’s just not the prayer for you. You might not even like praying the Rosary and think you have better ways to pray. I hear you. But I’d like to suggest you give it another try.

I wasn’t really committed to a daily Rosary until a few years ago. I would lead my children in a Rosary most days at the beginning of our homeschool day, but sometimes, if we were running late, we might do a Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Angelus instead. I told them it was so that they would be familiar with other prayers, too, but secretly, I was a little glad. The Rosary was long and hard to focus on. I preferred the other prayers. And I was the adult!

But a few years ago I decided the needs of the world and of my family required that I commit to a daily Rosary, so I found ways to make it work. And I want to tell you, my prayerfulness throughout the day grew, my love for the Blessed Mother grew, and what was once a drudgery has become something I plan my day around. Believe it or not, I added a second Rosary! Yes, I’m a convert to the Rosary, and here are some ideas that might help you become a convert, too.

Techniques to Help You Concentrate while Praying the Rosary

Take your time. If you can’t set aside twenty minutes to do it all at once, or if you don’t like to sit still for twenty minutes (me neither), pray a decade here and there throughout the day.

1. Take a walk.

Get your exercise while praying. Sometimes now I can stay put and pray a Rosary while kneeling or sitting, but usually I’ll walk. In bad weather, I’ll march up and down the steps! Find what works for you, and go ahead and change positions while praying. If you get tired of kneeling or your mind starts to wander, pace for the next decade.

2. Use pictures.

This one is particularly helpful for me and the one I used with the children. They each got their own Rosary booklet with pictures of the mysteries (these How to Pray the Holy Rosary placemats from Ascension are also a great idea). I still manage to get distracted sometimes, but the image brings me back. If I’m driving, I’ll remind myself of the mystery by repeating it as needed between Hail Mary’s—“the Resurrection”—or by adding it to the prayer—“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, risen from the dead.”

3. Switch back and forth.

It’s OK to sometimes concentrate on the mystery and sometimes concentrate on the prayers. The switching keeps your mind active and the mysteries fresh. I also pray the first half of the Hail Mary out loud for one decade and then the second half out loud for the next decade. This helps me concentrate on different parts of the prayer. 

4. Think about something else.

This was a game-changer for me! Scriptural Rosary booklets offer a verse for each Hail Mary, but I never liked them because they took too long. Then I read one that said to scan the reflection while praying the Hail Mary. 

What? Read at the same time as praying? The author, Charles Painter, explained: 

“If there is a doubt that the two things can be done at the same time – the scanning of a reflection while one is saying the Hail Mary – a moment’s recollection should dispel the doubt. When we are reciting vocal prayers do we not, at times, have our minds running on various subjects other than the meaning of the prayers? Our very distractions are a living proof that the dual activity can be performed.”

This single paragraph set me free! Now I could have my mind distracted and actually be praying at the same time! I use this method so frequently now, with any booklet that describes the mystery. I can scan through the words while praying, which inspires deeper reflection on the mystery.

5. Pray for a different intention on each decade or even each bead.

I’m the kind of person who always wants to “do something.” So for me, praying for a specific intention satisfies that need. When I’m praying the Presentation, I might present a different child along with Jesus on each bead: “Mother, please present _________ to the Heavenly Father along with Jesus.” When praying the Crowning with Thorns, I might pray “Please remove the crown of thorns from __________’s head.” For Descent of the Holy Spirit, I might pray for a different spirit on each bead: “Please increase in me the Spirit of (Hope, Patience, Forgiveness…).”  

But What If You Don’t Feel Like It?

Love is an act of the will, not a feeling. We are distinct from the beasts because we use our heads to rule our passions. Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the Cross for us. He prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemene that if there were some other way, please let the cup pass. But his infinite love for the Father and for us overruled his understandable desire to avoid the excruciating suffering. 

Overcoming your distaste or your struggles with the Rosary out of love for God and your family is very meritorious, and I can tell you from experience, it gets easier. After a while, you won’t imagine going to bed without finishing your Rosary.

What Does the Blessed Mother Say?

If you need any more convincing, here are some pretty incredible words from Our Lady herself that should encourage you to take the plunge into a daily Rosary.

“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.”

Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able to save you from the calamities.

Our Lady to Sr. Agnes in Akita, Japan

“If you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Rosary.”

Our Lady to St. Dominic

“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”

Our Lady of Fatima to Sr. Lucia dos Santos

The Power of Heaven in our Hands

Such a simple prayer on humble beads has spiritual power that is really beyond human comprehension. But the Blessed Mother has asked us to pray it, and the saints knew its power.

 “The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.”

St. Padre Pio

“Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!”

St. Josemaria Escriva

“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin… Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.”

Pope Pius XI

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”

St. Dominic

Say Yes to Your Mother

I hope the words of the Blessed Mother and of the saints inspire you to give some of my techniques a try to help you pray the Rosary well. Just keep at it! In no time, you’ll love the Rosary, too. 

“Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!”

St. Padre Pio

“I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life,” St. John Paul II urged, “confidently take up the Rosary once again. … May this appeal of mine not go unheard!”


You May Also Like:

Pray with Us: The Holy Rosary [CFR video]


6 Inspirational Stories about the Rosary


Is the Rosary Biblical? [Dr. Edward Sri podcast]


Pocket Guide to the Rosary


Jeannette Williams is the part-time communications coordinator of St. Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and a freelance writer and blogger. The mother of six, she homeschooled the first five through high school in the classical tradition, while the youngest now attends a new classical high school, Martin Saints, in Oreland, Pennsylvania. Jeannette’s greatest passion, besides her family, is to study the Catholic Faith and share it with others. When she’s not writing, Jeannette enjoys studying Spanish and Japanese, gardening, and spending time with her husband and children.


Featured image by Myriams-Fotos (pixabay.com) sourced from needpix.com

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  • Jeannette, I have to share that my regular recitation of the rosary was resurrected some 40 years ago when my son who was studying for the priesthood and I were travelling to see my family across the state. He started the rosary and I was embarrassed that I couldn’t remember the mysteries. Ever since then, I began to say the rosary daily on my commute to work! It is a habit that, if I know that my drive will be at least 20 minutes, I instinctively begin my rosary. Meditating on the mysteries is easy for me because between having watched Jesus of Nazareth and The Passion of the Christ over many years, I have a running video of each mystery in mind as I pray! An added benefit for me is that I don’t drive like a maniac, like I used to and I am prepared for a more peaceful day at work!

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