When I first wondered about the rosary myself, I was at the Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, I obtained a pamphlet on the rosary and a crucifix. Adding beads as directed I made my own rosary and for a long time used it as part of my prayer life, but not in true Roman Catholic tradition.
For Roman Catholics
In the pamphlet mentioned above, I only remember the rosary prayers including The Apostle's Creed, the Our Father (Lord's Prayer) and Hail,Marys. Exploring it again for this web page, I find there is so much more to it than that. The websites below will give you more if you are interested.
For a more complete teaching appropriate to beginners, try this guide at catholicity.com.
To hear the rosary being prayed and even to join in try this site, "Come, Pray the Rosary" which gives the option of joining a continuous world wide rosary or praying individually and a visual choice of sights of Jerusalem or a cathedral setting.
Asking Roman Catholic friends about praying the rosary, I get the sense it can bring both comfort and focus, a steadying influence if you will. The website "Catholicity" talks about praying it for others or naming intentions before praying.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women,
My Protestant Option
Since I am not from a Roman Catholic background, I adapted the rosary for my own use. Please, understand this is NOT a traditional rosary, simply something I found meaningful as a way for me to use my own rosary beads.
I began in traditional form reciting The Apostle's Creed as I held the crucifix. Again in traditional format I prayed the Lord's Prayer each time I came to a large bead. But here is where I deviated from tradition. Since the Hail Mary's did not have the meaning for me that they would hold for a Roman Catholic, I replaced them for each small bead with the Jesus Prayer, a prayer I read about in High School that is meaningful for me. (see my page on the Jesus Prayer). I did not yet know about the other parts of a full Roman Catholic rosary then.
The Jesus Prayer
Lord, Jesus Christ,
I used my rosary as a centering prayer. When I took blocks of time in prayer, especially on retreat days, I began with my version of the rosary helping me focus on God while leaving the world behind.
In case these are not familiar to you, or you haven't memorized them, here are two parts of the rosary that fit the traditional as well as my adapted version,
The Apostle's Creed
I'm using a traditional version here.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Some older versions say "the quick and the dead."
Quick in this sense means living which is how it is worded above.
Please also note that Catholic big C does not only refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the Church universal. For most of the first millennium of Christianity, there was only one Church.
The Our Father
I'm using the Roman Catholic version here.
Protestants vary in how they say this prayer. For example, most add to the end
for Thine is the kingdom,
While Lutherans and Methodists say "temptations," Presbyterians and Church of the Brethren say "debts and debtors." Some churches now say "sins and sinners." At the last added phrase Lutherans say "forever and ever." Just remember,that which version you use is not as important as what the words actually mean.
For more on the Lord's Prayer click here.