The evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
-- 2 Nephi 32:8
Apparently I am not the only Mormon to have been directed to pray the Rosary. Michelle Wiener posted this in 2020:
I haven't spoken much about this -- much less written about it -- but in a sacred experience I had a couple years ago, I was told to "pray the Rosary." While this is common to many Marian-type apparitions (this was not the Virgin Mary speaking, but it wasn't Heavenly Mother, either!), I tried to make it clear that I was not Catholic, but Mormon. But She would not take "no" for an answer.
Wiener ended up with a "Mormon feminist version of the Rosary that I wrote back in 2019, after struggling for several years to come up with a version that worked." In my case, despite the very Catholic (i.e. not-Mormon) nature of the Rosary prayers and Mysteries, the Spirit has insisted that I not modify them in any way -- that I not invent a "Mormon Rosary" for myself but rather pray, primarily in Latin, the actual Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as revealed to St. Dominic and expanded by Popes Pius V and John Paul II, and by the Fátima visitant.
I was also directed to track down and read a particular book (I was given its title in French) by the 19th-century French mystic Éliphas Lévi, who was, among his other spiritual pursuits, a Roman Catholic priest. I have not finished it yet, but early in its pages the case is made that no one should ever, on the grounds that he imagines himself to have a higher or truer understanding of God, scruple at joining himself to the common prayers of mankind. "What God hath cleansed, call not thou common or unclean."
I think this is correct. To cavil, over matters of theological opinion, at something so obviously holy and inspired by God, is to be like the Pharisees, or like those who in their misguided piety dared to say "holier than thou" to Joan of Arc and Joseph Smith.
Beyond this general lesson, I assume I have something important to learn from the content of the Rosary itself, but I'm letting that come in its own time. I suppose a focus on the immediate family members of Jesus Christ, and on how their exaltation is inseparable from his own, is not really as foreign to the spirit of Mormonism as all that.
One of the scriptural objections to Rosary-type prayers is the warning in Matthew against "vain repetitions":
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matt 6:7-8).
But Jesus didn’t say God hears us the first time, making repetition unnecessary; he said God already knows what we need before we ask him, making a prayer uttered only once just as superfluous as one repeated many times. The “vanity” then must lie not in the act of telling God something he already knows (what, if that were the case, could be more “vain” than to pray “thy will be done”?), but in the superstitious expectation of being heard for one’s much speaking.
I have yet to work out all the whys and wherefores, but in the meantime there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that God wants me to pray the Rosary — not a “Mormon Rosary,” but the Rosary — and that the full reason for this will become clear in time.
Does he want you to do so as well? That’s between you and the Holy Spirit of God.