10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary!

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

I’ve always found praying the Rosary to be difficult. Although I love the Blessed Mother and understand the importance of the devotion, it just doesn’t come easy to me. In reality, I have no problem SAYING the prayers, the problem arises in transforming the words into a heartfelt prayer. Furthermore, many books tell us how to SAY to Rosary, with only a few instructing us how we should PRAY it. In an attempt to discover the “secret” of this beloved prayer, I’ve done a lot of research and uncovered 10 great (I can say that in all humility because they’re not mine!) tips to help you PRAY (not just SAY) the Rosary!

1. Less Is More – In his book, The Rosary of Our Lady, Msgr. Romano Guardini offers the following advice:

“It is not necessary to ramble through the whole Rosary; it is better to say only one or two decades, and to say them right.”

Talk about removing the pressure! I’ve always struggled to make sure I complete the entire Rosary, even if it meant that I wasn’t paying attention. Now I realize that quality is more important than quantity.

2. You Are Not Alone – A great proponent of Marian devotion, St. Louis de Montfort urges us to be aware of our company while praying the rosary. In The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort reminds us that, when we pray the Rosary, we should put ourselves in God’s presence and imagine that He (along with the Blessed Mother) is watching us and that our guardian angel is standing to our right. If we say the prayers well, our angel will use them to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. Thinking about this before beginning to pray helps us to realize that we are doing A LOT more than just repeating pious words!

3. Watch What You Say – St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, contributes a simple, but often overlooked suggestion. He encourages us to pronounce each Our Father and Hail Mary clearly and without rushing. In doing so, we will better express our love for Mary and Jesus. When praying the Rosary, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mumbling and our rushing through the prayers. Remembering that the Our Father was handed down to us from Jesus and that most of the Hail Mary is taken directly from Scripture should help us to recall that the words DO mean something!

4. Been There, Done That – When we look at Mary’s life, we sometimes overlook her many struggles. Like us, Mary was forced to endure suffering and difficulties, often without a lot of explanation. Being the Mother of God didn’t make her all knowing. The Bible tells us that Mary experienced confusion and had to seek understanding through prayer. In her book, The Splendor of the Rosary, Maisie Ward (Catholic author, publisher and wife of noted apologist Frank Sheed) stated:

“In the Rosary we rejoice, sorrow and triumph with Our Lady as she walks the same path we have to walk. But now she has reached the end.”

When we pray the Rosary, we should remember that Mary understands our problems and confusion. By meditating on the events in her life and the life of her Son, we can obtain help for our daily struggles from someone who is now in a place where we’d like to someday be!

5. Listen To The Word – In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On The Most Holy Rosary), Blessed Pope John Paul II recommends that we supplement our Rosary meditations with Bible reading. After announcing the individual mystery, the late Holy Father encourages us to read an appropriate Bible passage. While this is not always possible (if we are praying while walking or driving, for instance), we can still mentally recall the details of an appropriate Bible story. This underscores the importance of becoming familiar with Sacred Scripture.

6. Savor The Repetition – Sometimes it feels as if praying the Rosary is just “repeating a bunch of words”! In fact, one of the criticisms of the Rosary is that it is nothing more than “vain repetition”. In his book, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen addresses those who consider the rosary to be monotonous. Using the analogy of a husband telling his wife “I love you” or a mother proclaiming “you’re a good boy” to her child, Sheen stresses that the words mean something different at each point in time that they are repeated. In the same way, each time we pray the Rosary, we are saying “I love you” to God, the Trinity, to Jesus and to Mary. With each successive bead (or decade) the meaning shifts as we contemplate a new aspect of Jesus or Mary’s love.

7. Do Whatever He Tells You – Praying the Rosary, no matter how devoutly, is never a substitute for following the commands of Jesus and His Church. The Rosary should spur us on to live the mysteries in our daily life. In his book, The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady, St. Francis de Sales had this to say:

“The worldly-minded imagine that devotion to Our Lady usually consists in carrying a rosary in their cincture. It seems to them that it is enough to pray it a number of times without doing anything else. In this they are greatly mistaken. For our dear Mistress wants us to do what her Son commands us (John 2:5) and considers as done to herself the honor we give to her Son by keeping His commandments.”

8. Think – In the preface of Father Peyton’s Rosary Prayer Book: The Family That Prays Together Stays Together, Fr. Patrick Peyton reminds us that the Rosary is more than a series of prayers to be recited. Rather, it is “a series of thoughts to be dwelt on, to be turned over in the mind, to be applied in daily life.” While we are saying the words of the prayers, we should be meditating upon the mysteries. That was a hard concept for me to understand, but it’s the key to unleashing the power of the Rosary.

9. Grow In Virtue
– Mother Angelica loves the Rosary. In her book, The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica, she discusses how to use the Rosary to grow in virtue:

“If you’re not making progress in one virtue, say your Rosary and meditate on that virtue as Our Lord practiced it. I cannot get over my faults and weaknesses if I don’t substitute those faults and weaknesses for something of God. This is precisely why the life of Jesus and the reading of Scripture and the rosary never seem to change us – why we remain the same: Because to change you need to admire someone other than yourself.”

10. Ask Mary For Help – This one’s so obvious that it’s easy to overlook! This simple, but powerful suggestion comes from a list (Tips On Praying The Rosary More Devoutly) put together by The Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, MO. Before beginning the Rosary, we should ask Our Blessed Mother to help us pray devoutly.

Although the Rosary follows a simple pattern, it can be a very challenging prayer to master. Rest assured that many of the Saints struggled with it too. If you find it difficult to pray the Rosary, try out these tips and see what happens. It might take a little time, but eventually your persistence will pay off. The next time you pick up your rosary beads, imagine that you’re holding Mary’s hand and taking a trip to visit Jesus. For when we pray the Rosary, that’s exactly what happens!

?The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God?and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.? (Pope Saint Pius X)

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is the host of The Gary Zimak Show podcast on Breadbox Media

This entry was posted in Blessed Mother, devotion, Marian, Mary, prayer, rosary. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to 10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary!

  1. Margaret Milne says:

    I love all of your suggestions. I like many, have such a long list of requests that I add to the rosary, that sometimes I am tired befor I start. It’s like a litany!
    I love litanys, but it’s difficult to think of what I am saying when in fact I am thinking of the people and not the words of the prayer.
    I know Jesus knows all the names in my prayers by now, so I guess if I just say ” I offer this rosary for all my family” that is enough! I would then have plenty of time after my rosary for a Litany! Thanks Gary God Bless your mission

    • Gary Zimak says:

      I agree, Midge! Sometimes I have so many intentions before I begin the rosary that I forget what I’m doing and start daydreaming. I found that these suggestions helped me, especially the first one.

    • Anna says:

      We are human and not perfect. God knows that. We work to make our meditation more meaningful and better all the time. Sometimes good meditation just comes to us. We pray for God’s grace help. He does help us. Don’t give up ever. That’s all part of meditation. You find yourself wandering off – come back and meditate again.

  2. Janette Wilson says:

    I have also read that just sacrificing the time and energy to focus on God and prayers is important. A saint once said that many times the body must teach the spirit how to pray. These outward actions really do lead to inner devotion. I think for me to persevere in saying the Rosary, I must have this faith that it is an important time set aside for God. It’s like upholding my commitment to HIM above all other things even when I have to constantly redirect my thinking. Usually after a few minutes of saying the words, my wondering mind is able to focus and take off with whatever meditation is being said for the day. I’ve read to think about who was present in each scene, why they were there, etc.

  3. Dismas says:

    For me, actually placing myself in the scene, as it’s actually happening now, is a great help. Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie contains the whole set of sorrowful mysteries. Something that helped me, I think, to better pray the rosary better and understand meditation on it’s mysteries was to say it while watching the movie. After doing this a few times I no longer needed the movie to place myself in and meditate on the mysteries while praying the rosary on my own. Another great help in praying the joyful, luminous and glorious mysteries was reading Anne Catherine Emmerich’s Life of the Blessed Virgin. This book also helped bring the mysteries ‘to life’ for me and made them very real as well.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Interesting approach…I can see why that would help you to meditate. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Greg says:

    Reciting a Scriptural Rosary saved the devotion for me. I’ve learned that I get more out of it through the reading of Scripture coupled with the Lord’s and Hail Mary prayers.

  5. Magdalene says:

    St. Padre Pio prayed MANY rosaries all day long. Bl. John Paul II did as well.
    Just sayin’…

  6. richard says:

    Distractions seem to be a thorn in my side everytime I pray the Rosary.

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  8. Mrs F Morant says:

    The Rosary is compiled of the JOYFUL, SORROWFUL and GLORIOUS Mysteries. These are the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary that were given to Saint Dominic by our Blessed Mother. The so called “luminous” thoughts have been “fabricated by john paul 2 the unblessed.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Wow…this serves as proof that I don’t censor comments! I can understand that you may not appreciate the Luminous Mysteries, but to refer to Blessed John Paul II as the “unblessed” really puts you on some mighty thin spiritual ice. You might want to think twice against speaking out against a solemn declaration by the Church…just my 2 cents!

  9. JD says:

    Would appreciate some advice here. have looked at times for advice on using rosary but never fully get the answer I want to the following issue – using the rosary becomes difficult because what seems to me two competing areas for attention – either entering into the scene of the decade, or focusing on the words of the prayers and who they are being said to. can’t focus on both at the same time and it seems that focusing on one will make the other fade into the background. if it is more about entering into the scene then
    the words start to have more the quality of background noise. the result is tiring and frustrating. Any advice on this.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Great question, JD and one for which I had a hard time obtaining an answer. I always wondered whether I was supposed to meditate on the mysteries or concentrate on the prayers. Like you, I found it impossible to do both. I don’t remember who said it, but I heard someone on Catholic radio state that the praying the prayers of the Rosary is like tapping your foot when you listen to music (the meditations). In his book, The World’s First Love, Archbishop Fulton Sheen states that we sometimes hear a dramatic presentation in which the human voice is speaking over a background of beautiful music. He compares the Rosary to that. While the prayer is being said, the heart is not hearing music, but is meditating on the life of Christ, applied to one’s own life and needs. Generally, when I pray the Rosary, the prayers are in the background and are used to relax and regulate my pace. I am primarily concentrating on the mysteries. The exception is, at the beginning, I concentrate on the words to the Our Father and 3 Hail Mary’s. Hope this helps!

      • Dismas says:


        Mary always points us to her son, our Saviour, Jesus. So when praying the Rosary, I’d have to say, don’t ever be afraid to ‘Look on the face of thy Christ’. Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a favorite prayer/poem that may be of help, Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue, Teach Me How to Pray. I hope you enjoy it:


        • Judith says:

          I learned that little poem a a child. Today, I only remember that first line followed by:God as once a little bit, tell me what to say. I don’t remember the rest. Thanks for reminding me of this much.

      • Karen says:

        I too had this issue. I find that I focus on the prayers and just the one virtue the mystery points to such as “humility” or “surrender”. Then at the end of the decade, after the Glory Be and the Fatima prayer, I offer a short spontaneous prayer that responds to the mystery itself. This way I divide and conquer both activities, just not at the same time.

    • Carmen Villemarette says:

      I have found that if I try to concentrate too hard, I am not praying as I should. Know the saying, “Let go; let God”. When I recite the first decade (Agony in the Garden) I think of how Jesus must have felt knowing what he was facing and what his destiny was to be. He felt all alone. We have been in those shoes. I think of the times, I felt that way, and I realize now looking back that He was with me in those times.
      (Scourging at the Pillar) ..we have all had that feeling of being scourged by enemies, and I think of those times in my life to associate my feelings with his. He was with me for every scourging that I encountered. (Crowning of Thorns) I associate that with the responsibilities I have had been given in my life as wife and mother. Thorns were many and came w/the title of mother and wife. He was with me through it all and felt every thorn that I felt. (Carrying the Cross) this is where I ask Jesus and Mary to help me carry the crosses I have in my life and to thank them for helping me with the crosses I had to bear previously. I thank Him for all the blessings He has given me, especially for the things that I am not aware of. I say a prayer to Jesus that if I would have been there, I would have helped him to carry His cross. And lastly, the (Crucifixion) This is where I am humble and I say an Act of Contrition to tell Jesus how sorry I am for all the sins I have committed in disrespect to him after all He went thru for me. I ask Him at this decade to help me to be a better person and to help me show Himself in me to others that I encounter. I ask Him at this decade to drive the devil away from my family and ask Our Blessed Mother to take care of our children and grandchildren with good health and mind and to always grow to know, love, and serve our Lord. I cannot totally concentrate on each prayer, but
      since I say the rosary and have come to each decade with these thoughts, I feel much closer to our Lord and Our Blessed Mother. You may want to try this. You will find yourself opening your heart and soul in a way you have never imagined. God Bless You!

  10. Jerry says:

    great suggetions i will certainlly try them out. I usually try to say the rosary in order of Jesus life joyful ,luminous.sorrowful and glorious kind of following in Jesus footsteps of his life using th scripture as a guide

  11. nancyo says:

    Thanks for these tips; they all bring out different facets of the devotion. I find it helpful at times to pray the rosary with a series of artworks (created by artists and iconographers through the centuries) illustrating each mystery. [These images are easily found online, and I keep them in a file on my computer] They help me keep focus and meditate on aspects of the mystery.

  12. Sharron says:

    Ligouri Publications has a small booklet titled How to Pray (Not Just Say) the Rosary with small thoughts for each of the Hail Mary beads. Also, scripturalrosary(dot)org has each of the mysteries (incluing Luminous) with a small piece of scripture for each bead and a picture for each of the 4 mysteries and also beginning prayers and ending prayers

  13. Ellen says:

    Recently I went on a retreat about the rosary, the the Benedictine Brother who gave it said if we can only say one decade, then say one decade prayerfully. He also said that it helped him to meditate on events from the scripture that may not be in the mysteries. I’ve found that to be a wonderful idea. He suggested meditating on the miracles Jesus performed, or maybe on some of the saying from the Sermon on the Mount.

    The Rosary was not given to St. Dominic, but evolved over many centuries. It’s still evolving, and is a wonderful prayer that I am only now beginning to appreciate.

  14. Robyn says:

    Awesome post!.. I still find my mind wandering at times.. Usually when I have a lot going on and I have to keep pulling my thoughts back to the Mystery I am praying.. I think it’s something we all struggle with but I have found that if I put on some music, something usually by “Thomas Tallis” my mind does not wonder and I better able to concentrate or meditate on each mystery..

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  18. Rex says:

    These tips are good. I went on a retreat at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. Praying with the monks helped me to slow down, take time, leave space between the lines, focus on Who we pray to, and listen.

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  21. Tina says:

    When I pray I pray from my heart and i feel the presns of God and Sometimes I cry with real emotion And thank my God for his love and my salvation and family n friends I ask forgivness for my sins n thank him for all He has done for us sinners. Sometimes I spend hours praying with my God and when i’m done I feel so good like the weight of my problems has lifted. I do not have fancy words, I humbel myself before Him and give him all i have to offer from within me.

  22. Jan says:

    i pray the Rosary as if I am watching a movie or a theater play.. the mysteries are the different scenes and the Our Father and Hail Marys are the background music while the scenes are unfolding.. doing this keeps me in focus of the mystery..

  23. Angela says:

    I have prayed the Rosary for the last 10 years. I still find it sooooo difficult. I never feel like praying it. I always want to get it finished. Im always tired from my kids and chores, family so its like another work I have to do. I love Mary our Mother so I continue to believe the Rosary helps and I have experienced and seen the huge graces for me and my family from the power of this prayer. But still I find it so difficult to want to pray the Rosary. My husband loves praying the Rosary. I really want to commit to saying/praying the Rosary daily but I never feel like it so I constantly am praying it and not feeling like I want to pray it. I cant do this anymore…..please suggest help!

    • Paula says:


      Please do not stop praying the rosary. The devil is the one putting these thoughts into your head. The Lord sees that you are struggling with this and is continuing to bless you with graces while you say the rosary. That is why you have said it for 10 years. Our Holy Mother and Our Lord Jesus have stood by your side everytime you recite the those simple but miraculous prayers and they will continue to do so until the end of time. By saying the rosary even when you don’t want to shows them that you are choosing good over evil.

  24. Johnvianney says:

    I use to think it’s just all about praying the rosary daily forgetting the meditative aspect of the rosary…..
    hence the rosary then become a Pentecostal prayer………
    Right about now you enlighten my knowledge with your points@Gary

  25. Joe says:

    Gary, thank you for these suggestions. Question – is it proper to use an app on my phone to pray the rosary (there’s an app that provides a scriptural rosary which I love) or do I have to use a physical rosary?

    • Ogbonna Christian Toochukwu says:

      The best should be using the rosary but it is almost the same if you are able to concentrate while using your device. In my case I use my device when i feel weak. But like i said you should try your best to pray along and meditate on the mysteries. Keep praying

  26. Rose Drown says:

    The Rosary is the only promise of World peace that exists..Only Catholics know about the Rosary.Only Catholics are responsible for World Peace.The devil steals peace (steal, kill, destroyJohn 10:10)..I am a cradle Catholic who came late but hard to the rosary. I don’t understand why there is no group whose membership requires a daily PERSONAL rosary.Do you know of one ? Did find that Dominican nuns pray a daily Community Rosary. BENEDICTINES dont seem to get it..This surprizes me becaus St Benedict is hailed as the one whose monks sanctified Europe.. Franciscans downplay it too much for my taste..Seems current Catholic Church has a lot of APA /Mason nonsense where discipline is presented as force ..

    • MARGARET says:

      The original Archconfraternity of the Holy Rosary established by St. Louis Marie de Montfort required all members to recite the Rosary every day. C.f. The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis Marie de Montfort.

  27. Rose Drown says:

    I pray a daily fifteen decade rosary daily first thing before I leave home-36 years. When its hard, I know I have a miracle coming – that day. WHEN i do nineteen rosaries, Mary takes me out to dinner.If i finish the nineteen by three pm I go out classy..If I finish by dinnertime, I go out Burger King or McDonald or Wendys (fast food)..When Im really tired I can feel God saying the rosary in me ..Lately its difficult up to the third joyful, then it flies ..I do it because God asked it at Fatima and the Masons have so far blocked a Consecration of Russia WITH THE BISHOPS..I have Our Lady of Fatima in my prayer area/ living room (am in studio apt as hermit)..When I do lots of rosaries she has a smile as big as the world. When i dont do lots of rosaries, she is in tears ..Am fatima.org Crusader. Founder of Blue Army, Rev Howard V Colgan was member of THREE Masonic organizations..Do something little for Mary smacks of false humility and has probably been well-used by Masons to undermine God’s plan to bless our socks off since 1917…GOD HAS NO FAVORITES..I AM NOT SPECIAL..WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR ME, HE WILL DO FOR YOU ..He asks expressed gratitude and that we remember just who we are talking to but there are many blessings awaiting ALL OF THE WORLD..The rosary is erious power to bless and be blessed..Prayer for one family or on miracle is too little..GOD DIED FOR US,His BLOOD SACRIFICE is POWERFUL BLESSING…Hope God opens your ears and understanding to see this..Compromise of truth is not moderation..Romans 6:23 & 8:32 …

    • MARGARET says:

      Bravo! What I’ve found is that my concentration is good when reading Scripture, praying the Hours is tougher and praying the Rosary is the toughest of all. Then if I stop praying the Rosary, my thoughts calm down and everything becomes quiet again, e.g. no traffic noise.

      This First Saturday is Theophany/Epiphany. I encourage everyone to make the Five First Saturdays.

  28. Rose Drown says:

    The few times i have run out before saying the rosary, one of my cats will run after me yelling “what are you doing – you havent said the rosary…they feel the peace of the rosary and know I am supposed to be saying it..Ernie Karl was particularly insistent and adamant about my doing what I was supposed to do re the Morning Rosary …..am on rosary fifteen closing right now..God just took away all the sadness of my life with understanding and insights..



    • Ben says:

      Hi Bernice,
      I know how you feel…this happens to most people (young and old alike) and what works for me is to pause, trust that God will remind me of the words, and to not get upset in that moment because we have forgotten the words. Getting upset at ourselves serves us no good and remember that He knows that we know the words, especially if we have said them many times before. And He knows what we want before we do, so no need to focus so much on that. To me the words are the base of a story which helps us to mediate on the mysteries. I even like using a story dialogue with the Blessed Virgin Mary (I use – catholic.org), where she instructs us on what to ask for and teaches us what to focus on when meditating on each rosary mystery. Every time we pray the rosary, we must reignite the spirit and pray in the spirit. Once we meditate and pray in the spirit, remembering that The Blessed Virgin is with us, praying for us, we can let go of our human distractions and totally give ourselves to God in that moment. Remember Jesus has instructed us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-8. When you’re alone, or praying with others, maybe have a little “cheat sheet” near you to remind you of the words of the prayers, if need be and take your time not to rush through it. God is patient with us and so too must we be patient. Keep on praying and may God bless you Bernice.

  30. Melody R Wilson says:

    I am not baptized I tried to ,but they seem very busy to baptize me, I pray the rosary everyday and go to church everyweek, does that do any good since I am not baptized.

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