Prayer Beads & Ropes (Pt 3) Orthodox Prayer Ropes

The Orthodox prayer rope is my favorite of all we have talked about this week. That being said, my ropes ARE NOT ORTHODOX. Let me give you the key differences:

An Orthodox Prayer Rope
  • Orthodox Prayer Ropes are usually made of wool
  • Orthodox prayer ropes usually have 33, 50, or 100 knots
  • Orthodox prayer ropes are almost always a single color
  • Orthodox prayer ropes use a special knot

The Orthodox Prayer Rope uses a special knot. There are several YouTube instructional videos on how to tie this knot. I have tried to learn from most and I finally, after spending a good chunk of three weekends trying to learn it (plus several evenings a week in between) I finally gave up. It is a VERY complicated knot. Orthodox tradition says the knot itself is so difficult to untie, the devil can’t even untie it.

All the above ropes us a crown knot. With one exception (the light blue and white which is an Anglican Rope) all are 50 knot ropes. The cross on each is made of olive wood. The knot on the actual Orthodox Rope is the one I described above. I think I successfully tied the knot five times. I never succeeded in tying two side by side.

Traditionally Orthodox Prayer Ropes have 33, 50, or 100 knots. This rope has 50. I do not know why these lengths. I chose 50 over 33 because I knew much of the time 33 would not be long enough for me. 100 of these knots would be too long.

The traditional Orthodox Prayer Rope uses a knotted cross of the same knot used in the rope itself. While a cross of crown knots is possible, it is difficult. Before I learned to tie a cross from snake knots I chose to use olive wood crosses. Because of expense I use them occasionally but mostly I use paracord crosses made with snake knots.

This is a sample of a Prayer Rope with a snake knot cross. In the Crown knot crosses I almost always use different colors or patterns on the rope. I find it much easier to see and keep track of where I am in the process using different colors or paterns.

This next rope,

This model started out as an experiment. It is a double snake knot rope. This rope requires you to tie two snake knots side by side for each knot in the string, so this rope is actually 100 knots. Obviously this rope can be used as either a 50 or 100 knot rope.

Rope with Invitation knots and 5 counting knots.

Most people (me included) have used the ropes as a necklace. Such is not how the Orthodox wear them. For them, as an aide to prayer, this is not jewelry and would be worn around the wrist to have the rope available at anytime for prayer.

Once again, there is no wrong way to use ropes or beads. If you have a plan to use them that is not my explanation, go for it. You are not wrong.

Most prayer ropes or beads begin with an invitation knot or beat. On these ropes it is the knot closes to the cross. It is also the largest knot. It can be something as simple as, “Lord Jesus Christ, I ask that you join me during this time of prayer.” Or, whatever words you wish to say.

One of the traditional uses of the Prayer Rope is for for a repetitive prayer. In my understanding, these ropes are aid in counting the number of times one says the prayer. The most traditional prayer I know is called “The Jesus Prayer.” Here are the words:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

You repeat the prayer as you make your way round each knot in the rope. The large bead on the rope (some do not have it) is just a way for you to know you are half-way around the rope. Some people only pray half way around the circle before changing their prayer. In using the rope as a counter it might look something like this:

Put your thumb on top of the knot and drag the knot into your hand is my preferred method.

I use the Jesus Prayer regularly. I do not, however always pray the prayer exactly as I wrote it above. When I was in Spiritual Director’s training and learned of prayer ropes and The Jesus Prayer, I was taught to take these things and use them in a way that works for you. If I was to pray for a friend who was suffering I might say it like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on John, a sinner.” I have prayed for my congregation by saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help us meet our goals. Or, “help us be a light for you in this community.

I make no promises, but in my experience, when I have prayed the Jesus prayer in a focused effort for 30 days, significant things happen. I am no about to tell you what will happen for you. Like I said, I make no guarantees of what your experience will be. That is God’s job, not mine.

Two last words about Orthodox beads and ropes. There are Orthodox bead strings, they just are not my preference. They would be easier to get you started. Go to Hobby Lobby and buy some pony beads, a charm or cross, and some waxed sail twine and make a string of beads. Remember, these hold no power themselves. None of the ropes or beads we looked at this week have power. Additionally, we are not praying to the beads or ropes. They have no power and without power, we would be praying to a false God. They are just something to help you with prayer.

Notice all the black beads are the same size and there should be 33, 50, or 100 beads.

There are people I know who actually keep strings of beads or prayer ropes with as few as 7 beads or knots, 7 with a larger bead or not, and 10 with a bead or not. They keep these in their car. The larger knot helps keep count in a setting where you really can’t look. I personally do not pray with beads or ropes while driving. You have to decide if it works for you.

Thank you for joining me in this look at various Christian beads and ropes and the way some people use them.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for non-commercial use of this post.


Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: