Using A Prayer Rope

When praying, the prayer rope is normally held in the left hand (leaving the right hand free to make the Sign of the Cross). When not in use, the prayer rope should be wrapped around the left wrist so that it continues to remind one to pray without ceasing. (This is why, if made of wool they are often referred to as itch ropes) If this is impractical, it may be placed in the (left) pocket, but should not be hung around the neck or suspended from the belt. The reason for this is humility: one should not be ostentatious or conspicuous in displaying the prayer rope for others to see.

During Tonsure , Orthodox Monks and Nuns are given a prayer rope, with the words:

Accept, O brother/sister (name), the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) in the everlasting Jesus prayer by which you should have the name of the Lord in your soul, your thoughts, and your heart, saying always: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

The prayer rope is considered to be the sword of the Spirit, because prayer which is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit is a weapon that defeats the Devil.

In some Russian Orthodox service books, certain services can be replaced when necessary by praying the Jesus Prayer a speci- fied number of times, anywhere from 300 to 1,500 times depending on the service being replaced. In this way prayers can still be said even if the service books are for some reason unavailable. The use of a prayer rope is a very practical tool in such cases, simply for keeping count of the prayers said.

Over the centuries, various cell rules have developed to help the individual in the daily use of the prayer rope. However, there is no single, standardized method that is used universally throughout the Church. There may be prostrations after each prayer or after a certain number of prayers, depending upon the particular rule being followed.

Not only is the Jesus Prayer used, but Orthodox Christians also have many “Breath Prayers”. Contrary to thought, they are not to be said using spiritual breathing, that can only be determined by a spirtual father. Some breath Prayers that are continuasly re- peated on the Prayer Rope are: Lord Have Mercy, Come Lord Jesus, Lord I Believe…Help My Unbelief, Lord Save Me.


Source Hat tip to Fr. George Elliot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top