Orthodox Prayer Ropes - Origin, Tradition, and Use (Part 2)

Previous Article: Orthodox Prayer Ropes - Origin, Tradition, and Use (Part 1)

The Prayer in Action: How to use the prayer rope in prayer

First, an important observation is necessary. This chapter does not present a definitive rule on the use of the Orthodox prayer rope, as it is versatile enough to accommodate many methods. Most important is the fact that a prayer rule should only be given by the spiritual father chosen by the praying person, who is well aware of his son's dispositions, the spiritual needs and battles he faces. Therefore, the advice of the author of this essay to all those who seek some kind of information about the Orthodox prayer rope in it is to seek a good spiritual father with all one's efforts. 

This need is not limited only to the practice of prayer, but to the entire life of the believer in the Holy Orthodox Church. The spiritual father is not only a teacher, but a friend, a confidant and a counselor, able to guide him through the practices that the Orthodox Church teaches for the spiritual evolution of each one. If there is no Orthodox Church near where you live, consider that a periodic trip is a minimal price to pay for the benefit that the zeal of a good spiritual father can bring.

Finally, the methods presented here are merely illustrative and based on methods that have already been applied and are traditional. The difference of each method consists of the initial, intermediate and final prayers, leaving the knots for the Jesus Prayer, without changing the purest Tradition of the Orthodox prayer rope.

Method 1 - Praying by yourself

On the Cross: + In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
+ Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!
+ Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and for ever and ever. Amen!

On the main knot: Our Father and Hymn to the Virgin Mother of God.

On each knot: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"

On each separator: "Mother of God, pray for me, a sinner!"

At the end, on the main knot: The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Profession of Faith, Intercession to the Fathers

In addition to the adopted method of prayer, we should whenever possible pray our prayers at the same time and in the same place, preferably in front of an icon of Jesus Christ or the Mother of God and, if possible, with a lit lampada.

Still, the use of the orthodox prayer rope brought a series of customs, which vary by region and community. The most common originates in the monastic communities, where the prayer rope is attached to the left wrist. Another very strong custom is to keep it under your pillow while sleeping. Hanging it on the front door or on the icon wall is also common.

Some people ask the priest to leave it under the Holy Table during the days when Our Lord was killed and buried, receiving it back again when Christ's resurrection is celebrated. It is also possible, at other times of the year, to ask the priest to bless the prayer rope or to touch it in the holy relics of the Cross or of the Saints, when made available for veneration.

The blessed prayer rope is used to bless the family, home and food, as the head of the family has prerogatives to pray for God's blessings on those under his responsibility, always using simple formulas such as: “Bless, Lord Jesus Christ, (my house / my family / our food / etc ...) and have mercy on us! ”.

Regardless of the use or practices we choose to use with the Orthodox prayer rope, we must always keep it with all respect and care for it as a sacred object, not a toy or talisman. That is, we must not use the Orthodox prayer rope for any purpose other than prayer, nor should we assume that it has “powers” by itself. The virtues that can be contained in our prayer rope are the same as any other object blessed and treated with due respect.

Final Considerations

This essay on the origin, tradition and use of the Orthodox prayer rope is the summary of research carried out over two years, since I learned the art of how to make this instrument of rare beauty and spiritual depth. I am working on a complete manual teaching this art, which will be published soon.

The main motivation for writing this work was to demystify a lot of what has been said about the Orthodox prayer rope in our language by various unorthodox segments, proliferating controversial conclusions and depriving those who are truly interested in beautiful traditions, true symbolism and history of this instrument that brings with it more than seventeen hundred years of tradition, in addition to a simple, clear and true theology.

It is necessary to stress some important points about the Orthodox prayer rope:

  • The name “Rosary” is a name attributed to the prayer instrument of the Roman church presented by Saint Domingos. The term “Rosary” is a modern designation given to a third of this instrument, particularly used in the popular Brazilian language. The name "Byzantine Rosary" was never used in the tradition of the Orthodox prayer rope, despite the historical time coinciding with the origin of the instrument. The Orthodox Church does not recognize this designation, the Orthodox prayer rope being recognized by its Greek (komboskini) or Russian (chotki) name.
  • The use of the Orthodox prayer rope is essentially a private practice, not for the celebration of public or community services or prayers, except in monastic communities with a common prayer rule.
  • The Orthodox prayer rope is closely linked to the Jesus Prayer, as taught by Tradition, with the specific formula “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. Using “jaculatories” whose character is more neurolinguistic than theological is a controversial practice, since the prayer performed on the Orthodox prayer rope is not a practice of vain repetition, but the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus.
  • The practice of the Orthodox prayer rope does not involve any kind of "meditation of mysteries", this being a practice of the Marian rosary of the Roman church.

Finally, the prayer rope originated in Orthodoxy, but it is a patrimony of Christianity, regardless of the segment, being accessible to any Christian who has zeal for prayer and fear for the Holy Name of Jesus, but it is necessary to preserve certain truths so that the teaching and research are always correct. Nowadays, what is seen is the adaptation of God to man, and not of man to God. This is a serious mistake, for where has the creature ever been seen to surpass the Creator? Thus, a contribution is registered in the name of preserving Tradition.

May God, through the intercessions of His Most Holy Mother, of St. John the Forerunner and the prayers of the Holy Fathers, bless the beloved reader and enlighten his understanding to begin a life of true and fruitful prayer in the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Previous Article: Orthodox Prayer Ropes - Origin, Tradition, and Use (Part 1)

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