As an ex-protestant, I can honestly tell you that I went through several phases before the rosary became my favorite prayer.
At first it was a challenge to memorize the words, but with a little time “Hail Mary” rolled off my lips as easy as “Our Father”. Taking small steps and working on a phrase here and there and it became second nature.
Until the Hail Mary was memorized it as not easy to meditate on the Mysteries, but once it happened, I found it easier to meditate on the Mysteries because my mind was not bouncing around like a tree full of monkeys.
The next phase was the Mysteries themselves. Each of the 20 mysteries slowly became strong sign posts or milestones in the life of Jesus. After 20 mysteries you have reviewed some of the highest and lowest point of Christ life with little time for the wild monkeys to pull you back to a broken car or the next chore to run.
It is also important to either speak the words out loud or to whisper the words as you mediate on the mysteries. I find that if you just listen to someone else (on the radio for example) while you try to meditate, you will soon drift away from prayer.
It takes about 20 minutes to pray one set of mysteries. It can take 60-80 minutes to pray all four sets of the mysteries.
Here are some explanations of the more common “issues” people might have with the rosary.
Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to repetitively pray?
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.” (Mat 6:7 NAB) or if you like “Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do.” (Mat 6:7 – NRSV) or “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Mat 6:7 KJV)
First the words are not babble, empty phrases or vain repetitions. 90% of the words are from the Bible. Just like the “Our Father” prayer given by the Lord two sentences later in the Bible and no Christian has a problem saying that prayer quite often.
Secondly, the prayers that are repeated are not for the sake of hounding, badgering or amplifying the words. Saying the words over and over is ameditation technique. It preoccupies part of our mind with the rhythm movement of the lips and vocal chords and the fingers on the beads, while the remainder of the mind can better contemplate the Mystery at hand.
Thirdly, the prayers are not pagans, or heathens. They are praying scripture from a Christian Bible.
Is the rosary giving too much attention to Mary?
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, is pure scripture.
Holy Mary, mother of God (all Christian agree) ,
“pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” This is asking her to pray for us not praying to her. This is an intercessory type pray that is one of two valid forms of pray to God. This is the most foreign to a protestant, but it is demonstrated many times in the Bible and you most likely have ask a friend to pray for you in times of trouble. That fact that it is repeated 10 times for every “Our Father or Lord’s Prayer” goes back to the rhythmic nature of the vocalization of the words as a tool to help you meditate on the Mystery at hand.
For example: You are thinking about the crowning of Jesus with a crown of thorns while saying scripture over and over. In this example what do you think sticks in your mind the most?