You try your hardest. Over and over again.
It’s not that you don’t want to meditate on the life of our Lord and Savior through the guidance of our Blessed Mother. You absolutely do.
But let’s face it. You’re exhausted.
Your prayer time isn’t exactly your time of optimal alertness. When you wake up in the morning, shaking the sleep off takes a while. Even when you succeed, you get drowsy again the moment you settle into your prayer position.
By evening, after work, school, kids, chores, errands, etc., the moment your body starts to finally relax, you’re unconscious until morning.
Maybe someday you’ll work your way up to praying all the rosaries consecutively every single morning, like a boss (Hi, mom). But for now, you’re just struggling to keep your eyes open through one rosary, or even a decade or two.
First, know that God still loves you and doesn’t fault you for blacking out. Second, check out these 5 tips for staying awake while praying the rosary that I have found helpful.
1. Sip & Pray
You’re already hitting up the coffee pot in the morning, so enjoy your brew while praying your rosary. Take a sip every two or three Hail Marys to stay in rhythm. Let the caffeine work it’s magic as you work your way through the mysteries.
Don’t worry if tea’s more your thing. Even with far less caffeine, the hot beverage generally helps keep you awake. Turmeric gives you energy, so adding a little turmeric root or turmeric powder to your tea will give an extra boost.
2. Change Your Pose
Instead of your usual relaxed, comfy prayer position, get a little uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable. Listen to your body. Particularly for the Sorrowful Mysteries, lean into the discomfort and reflect on Christ’s pain through each phase of His passion, uniting your feelings in the moment to His.
For example, if you normally pray in a cross-legged position, try straightening your back and then bending downward at the waist, making your way to the floor. Once you get your nose as close to the floor as you can, pulse a little up and down or side to side to keep from lingering in muscle soreness.
If you’re a Yogi of any level, try praying in a lotus position or a tree pose. Even if you are comfortable in those poses, the mere act of balancing awakens your body and keeps your mind alert. If you don’t require much focus to balance, you’re free to focus on the mysteries while your body handles the rest.
3. Move Your Body
Are you the type to fall asleep whether you’re sitting, kneeling, or even standing? Try switching positions throughout the rosary. Pick intervals where you switch, connecting each movement to the prayers to enhance your experience rather than introducing distraction.
For example, stand for most of the rosary, but bow or kneel in reverence at the line “and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” during each Hail Mary. Or pace back and forth during the mysteries and Hail Marys but kneel or bow to the ground for each Our Father, Glory Be, and Fatima Prayer.
4. Take a Walk
Walking around outside will definitely keep you awake. Recite your rosary while circling your yard or block. If your dog likes to linger during the morning walk, bring your rosary along. He or she can sniff every blade of grass and mark things every couple of steps all they want to whilst you pray.
The Joyful Mysteries, in particular, largely reflect travel moments surrounding Mary’s pregnancy and Christ’s childhood. So while you’re engaged in your prayer walk, unite your steps with those of the Holy Family.
If the weather’s not great, use your imagination to connect your weather experience with moments reflected upon in the rosary. Consider the different weather conditions the Holy Family may have traveled through in Jesus’ youth or that Jesus and His apostles would have traveled through over the course of His three-year ministry.
5. Add a New Voice
Use a prayer app like Hallow, a livestream like EWTN’s rosaries from the Holy Land and Lourdes, or a YouTube video to pray the rosary while someone else does all the talking. It truly helps sometimes to have an outside voice saying the words while you pray.
Your own head-voice is too familiar and too prone to distracting trains of thought. Even when you’re speaking out loud, you can still get drowsy and mentally distracted. An outside voice can keep you alert and helps keep you on track if you nod in and out.
Enter Into the Sacred Mysteries
You settle down for your scheduled prayer time to say the rosary. Then suddenly, you jolt awake to realize you’ve accidentally slept your prayer hour away. Again.
You feel ashamed to have fallen asleep on God. You believe you’ve committed a grave offense. But it’s okay. Show yourself a little grace.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux used to fall asleep during prayer sometimes. The Pope has openly admitted to falling asleep during prayer. Peter, James, and John struggled to stay awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
You’re human. You get sleepy. God knows that and still delights in your best efforts. He works on your heart both when you’re awake and when you’re sleeping, so don’t worry.
With that assurance in mind, try these 5 tips for staying awake during the rosary and work on improving over time. Choose one tip that works best for you, or add a couple to your daily routine. Switch it up by alternating between an outdoor rosary walk and an indoor rosary with switching positions. Employ a different tip for each set of mysteries.
Whatever you decide, may you be blessed by all the graces poured out upon those who faithfully (even drowsily) pray the holy rosary.