Author Topic: How do I use a prayer rope?  (Read 153 times)

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Offline eddybear

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How do I use a prayer rope?
« on: Yesterday at 09:12:49 AM »
I was very blessed at church this morning, when someone who I've only spoken to once before gave me a gift, of a prayer rope. He said it's useful for praying the Jesus Prayer, which is a really important prayer. The Jesus Prayer is something I do pray sometimes, but not really in an organised way. So my question is, how do I pray with the prayer rope? Is it a case of using it to count up to 100, which to me seems a vast number of times to say the prayer? Every 10th bead is olive wood, do I pray something different when I get to these beads? What is suitable for someone like me who is still only an inquirer, albeit one who is becoming ever more convinced about Orthodoxy?

Offline wgw

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 09:59:52 AM »
That sounds a bit like a rosary to me rather than a prayer rope; my prayer rope isa 50 knot model with two spacer beads, one at the cruciform end, and one opposite.  So when I hit those I pray the Trisagion according to OO praxis (Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Who was crucified for us, Have mercy on Us; Eastern Orthodox will omit "who was crucified for us" as for them the Trisagion is a Trinitarian rather than Christological prayer), and the Lord's Prayer.

Now it sounds like you have a rosary if your prayer rope has beads, and every tenth bead is different.  So you could say the Lord's prayer at the bottom, the Trisagion at the top, and Kyrie Eleison at each spacer.  Or a number of other different configurations.

It is also possible to pray the Rosary but the consensus is we should not visually meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary as the Roman Catholics do.  St. Seraphim of Sarov said Hail Marys according to a rule which is still observed at the monastery and separate convent that bears his name, built atop his woodland hermitage.  There, the monastics use a modified version of the Lestovka, the leather prayer rope favored by Old Ritualists and Old Believers, which has a different configuration and is designed to be used as, essentially, an Orthodox rosary.  However, I myself prefer the Jesus Prayer.  You might pray a Hail Mary, using the Orthodox form (see Wikipedia) rather than the Roman Carholic form, on the spacer beads, if you have a strong Marian devotion.

Either way, if you have formally begun your Catechesis in preparation for baptism, you should review your prayer rule with your priest and ask him for guidance on how he suggests you use the rope, and you should go on YouTube and view the lectures by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on the subject.  If you aren't yer a Catechumen, now would be a good time to become one.   :)

By the way, I did once encounter a Russian priest who was opposed to the lay use of prayer ropes and the Jesus Prayer.  These are an important part of my faith and my understanding of Orthodoxy; if I found myself in such a parish, to be very frank, I would move to a different parish.  Though I am OO, we have developed a love for the Jesus Prayer, and while I was at St. Anthonys Coptic Monastery I Was told the monks had been reading the Philokalia together, the translation by Kallistos Ware.  And certainly Fr. Lazarus has been an enthusiast of it.  The prayer is said to have originated in the form of the Kyrie Eleisons said repeatedly by early Desert Fathers who were illiterate, and thus one could say it's origins run right to the heart of Orthodox monasticism.

However it sounds like your parish is one of the Jesus Prayer friendly majority, since someone gave you a prayer rope (what a nice thing to do; on my first visit to a Coptic church one of the Deacons gave me a Euchologion, and that always touched me).  Even if your prayer rope is technically a Rosary, it's fully useful for saying the Jesus Prayer, and in fact the greater number of spacer beads makes it more adaptable to different combinations of prayers.  The only downside to rosaries is some of them make noise when you oray them, whereas the knotted prayer rope or the notched leather Lestovka are inherently silent, however, I have a rosary, and noise has never been a problem when operating it.

I'm somewhat of a prayer rope enthusiast, I especially love the fine leather lestovkas.  At present I use an inexpensive $35 vinyl lestovka acquired from the Church of the Nativity in Erie, PA, a ROCOR Old Rite parish.  However, if conditions permit later in the year I might order from Russia a real leather lestovka; they aren't that expensive, and it would be nice to have.   I would also like to add a longer conventional knotted prayer rope to my "fleet."   :)

Offline WPM

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 10:06:16 AM »
You count off the knotted beads with the Jesus Prayer.

Offline eddybear

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 10:18:13 AM »
Now it sounds like you have a rosary if your prayer rope has beads, and every tenth bead is different.  So you could say the Lord's prayer at the bottom, the Trisagion at the top, and Kyrie Eleison at each spacer.  Or a number of other different configurations.
Thank you, wgw. My description was actually a bit misleading. It's almost all made of wool (or some similar material, feels like wool), including the cross and tassel, so I should have said "knots" rather than "beads". My western mindest kicking in again ;) It has 9 knots, then an olive wood bead, 9 knots, olive wood bead etc, repeated a total of 10 times.

Offline wgw

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 10:40:53 AM »
Ok, that's an unusual configuration, but cool.  You can say the Jesus Prayer continually, keeping count by the number of times you cross the tassel, or you can use a different prayer on the spacer beads, which is my personal practice; I try to pray the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer once per cycle.  But you may just want to concentrate and purely say the Jesus Prayer, it is up to you and your father confessor.

Offline LBK

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 10:44:16 AM »
Ok, that's an unusual configuration, but cool.

No, it isn't. Such prayer ropes are very common.
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Offline ergro

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 10:58:42 AM »
You hold it in your left hand (so that you're free to make the sign of the cross with your right hand; whether you actually do so or not is a matter of personal preference) and say the Jesus prayer on every knot, sliding it through your fingers in a way very similar to that of a rosary. The wooden beads are generally not included, you should have 25 knots per section without them, but you can count if you're not sure. It may sound intimidating to say the Jesus Prayer 100 times, but it's really not. If I'm really pressed for time I can skim through the Komboskini in two minutes (yes, I know that it should be used very solemnly, but I try to include it as part of my prayer rule, and since that already includes the Horologion it doesn't quite work out on certain days).

Also - I was under the impression that 100 knot komboskinis were the standard.

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 12:57:34 PM »
Also - I was under the impression that 100 knot komboskinis were the standard.

33-knot ones, worn full time on the wrist, are far more common. :)

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Offline eddybear

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 04:04:22 PM »
Either way, if you have formally begun your Catechesis in preparation for baptism, you should review your prayer rule with your priest and ask him for guidance on how he suggests you use the rope, and you should go on YouTube and view the lectures by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on the subject.  If you aren't yer a Catechumen, now would be a good time to become one.   :)
If the only person I had to think about was me, I might well ask to become a catechumen fairly soon, but I am mindful of not leaving my beloved wife behind. I also need to work through what it would mean for the choir I conduct, which is officially a secular choir, but sometimes sings in Anglican services. By the way, for me it would be catechesis for chrismation, as I am already baptised. It so happens I was talking about this very question today with the chap who gave me the prayer rope, who is a convert from Catholicism and was received into the Orthodox Church this way.

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 04:09:35 PM »
So my question is, how do I pray with the prayer rope?

I picked up a small pamphlet on this matter in a church once and found it accessible and enjoyable.  The text of that pamphlet is here:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/comboschini.aspx
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Offline Superior Practices

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 09:13:59 PM »
So my question is, how do I pray with the prayer rope?

I picked up a small pamphlet on this matter in a church once and found it accessible and enjoyable.  The text of that pamphlet is here:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/comboschini.aspx

That pamphlet was very interesting, thank you!

Offline Alxandra

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Re: How do I use a prayer rope?
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 09:21:53 PM »
Also - I was under the impression that 100 knot komboskinis were the standard.

33-knot ones, worn full time on the wrist, are far more common. :)


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