Prayer beads have been used as tools for spiritual practice for millennia and across multiple faith traditions, drawing seekers closer to the Divine with each bead touched and prayer offered.
While the prayer beads in the Journey Shop are made in the Anglican format, the wearable prayer beads created by A Sacred Journey are meant to be used by all followers of the Christian faith and will broaden your prayer practice and encourage creativity as you gather prayers from Scripture and fellow seekers to help guide you along the way.
The prayer beads in the Journey Shop are made up 33 beads, a number which calls to mind the age of Christ when he was crucified. These beads are separated by a varying number of spacer beads. There are two sections of the prayer beads—the stem and the circle of prayer. The stem, which consists of a charm and the invitatory bead, is where the prayer begins and ends. The main part of the prayer is recited in the second section of the prayer beads—a circle made up of four sets of week beads containing seven beads each (a holy number harkening back to the days of creation) divided by four cruciform beads which form a cross. These four beads can also represent the four gospels, the four seasons, the four directions, or the four parts of the self—body, mind, spirit, and soul.
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Each type of bead is assigned a particular prayer:
A cross or alternative symbol with spiritual significance used when beginning and ending the prayer.
A single bead on the stem located between the charm and the first cruciform bead. When beginning, the invitatory bead serves as a call to prayer, stating the intention of your practice, and is oftentimes a verse of Scripture or inspirational phrase. When closing, it serves as a benediction and can be used to recite the Lord’s Prayer, spend time in personal prayer, or end with more words of inspiration.<
Four beads spaced evenly throughout the circle of prayer that form a cross. The cruciform beads are connected to a repeated phrase that aligns with the desire of your heart and the theme of your prayer and can also be used for the prayers of the people, assigning a different category to each bead (prayers for the Church, prayers for the nation, prayers for the world, prayers for those who suffer, etc.).
Four sets of seven beads set in between the four cruciform beads. The week beads are the heart of the prayer and are used with a phrase you desire to repeat multiple times or an entire phrase spread across one week (seven beads) or even the entire set of four weeks (twenty-eight beads).
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HOW TO PRAY USING PRAYER BEADS
- Begin at the charm with an invocation.
- Move to the invitatory bead, reciting the words that will serve as your call to prayer.
- Follow the invitatory bead to the first cruciform bead, reciting for the first time the phrase you will return to at each cruciform bead throughout your time of prayer.
- Move slowly along the week beads, calling to mind the prayer assigned for each one. You may go around this circle of prayer one time or many.
- When you are ready to end your prayer, return to the invitatory bead, reciting your chosen benediction.
- Close the prayer as desired on the charm.
CRAFTING PRAYERS FOR PRAYER BEADS
A great way to get started to use prayers already compiled for use with prayer beads. Many of these prayers draw from Scripture, such as the Psalms, as well as the famous prayers and sayings of spiritual guides. In addition to the Prayer for the Journey that comes with the Labyrinth set of wearable prayer beads, the Journey Shop offers a collection of pocket-sized prayer cards. Find them here. You can also download a set of prayers for use with prayer beads on the resources page.
As you learn the rhythm of prayer beads, you can also begin to craft your own prayers. Since you are the one offering the prayers, the prayers you use with your prayer beads are up to you.
Sometimes you’ll prefer to use the words of others, such as verses from Scripture or quotes from revered seekers or your favorite songs, inviting the wisdom of those who have gone before you to infuse your practice.
At other times you’ll be inspired to offer your own prayers, whether it is a word or phrase that expresses your desire repeated with each week bead or personal requests given at each cruciform. If you’d like to add structure to your personal prayers, consider forming them around the themes of the prayers of the people from the Book of Common Prayer, which focus on the Church, the Nation, the world, the local community, and those who are suffering.
No matter which prayers you choose to use with your prayer beads, one thing is certain: it is the intention behind your practice that matters the most.
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RESOURCES ON USING PRAYER BEADS
Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads by Kimberly Winston
A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads by Kristen E. Vincent
Another Bead, Another Prayer: Devotions to Use with Protestant Prayer Beads by Kristen E. Vincent
Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens
A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads by Eleanor Wiley and Maggie Oman Shannon