Making Prayer Beads for Lent

My workshop calendar is full and prayer bead orders are coming in at a rapid rate, which means that Lent is just around the corner. People love prayer beads for this season of preparation. The beads really help to foster a sense of stillness, introspection, and prayer as we journey with Jesus towards Jerusalem and the cross.

We’ve heard that many people are preparing to lead Lenten studies using either A Bead and a Prayer or Another Bead, Another Prayer. I hope you will include time for participants to make prayer beads. As so many of you know, getting to make your own prayer beads is a fun, creative, group-building activity. And the bonus is, you end up with a great set of prayer beads that YOU created!

Prayer beads made by one of our readers and her prayer group
Prayer beads made by one of our readers and her prayer group

Interested? I’ve included a supply list and full instructions below. There’s even a YouTube instructional video at the bottom of this post for those of you who want to follow me step by step.

All of the supplies can be purchased at your local craft store or online. We also sell kits in our Etsy store, which come with everything you need except the two tools. We generally keep all the kits in stock, though if you need to place a large order for a group, please contact me for information on volume discounts and shipping times. A good rule of thumb is we need two weeks to complete large orders (40 or more) of kits.

Happy beading!

Instructions for Making Your Own Prayer Beads

Materials Needed

  1. 5 large (10mm – 12mm) beads
  2. 29 medium (8mm – 10mm) beads
  3. 36 seed (size #6 or #8) beads
  4. 1 cross or other pendant
  5. 2 crimp tubes (size 2 x 2)
  6. 20 – 24 inches of wire (49-strand, .019 or .018″)

Tools Required

  1. 1 pair of chain nose pliers
  2. 1 set of side (flush) wire cutters

Legend

  • L = Large bead
  • M = Medium bead
  • s = seed bead

Instructions

  1. Thread one of the crimp tubes onto the wire, then add the cross. Thread the end of the wire back up through the crimp tube. This will leave you with the two ends of the wire coming out of the crimp tube: the primary length of wire and a smaller “tail,” about one inch in length. Using the pliers, squeeze the crimp tube until it is flattened.
  2. String the beads in the following pattern, taking them all the way down so that the first bead aligns with the crimp tube that sits above the cross. (Note: make sure the beads cover both of the wires—the primary wire and the “tail” that extends from the top of the cross): s L s M s L s
  3. String the crimp tube (this is a critical step!).
  4. String the first section of week beads in the following pattern: s M (7 times), then 1 s. It will look like this: s M s M s M s M s M s M s M s
  5. String 1 L bead.
  6. String the second section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
  7. String 1 L bead.
  8. String the third section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
  9. String 1 L bead.
  10. String the fourth section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
  11. Take the end of the wire and thread it back through the crimp tube that was added in Step 3 (the wire will be heading back toward the cross). Thread it through the crimp tube, the seed bead, the large bead, the seed bead, and the medium bead so that it comes out from the bottom of the medium bead.
  12. Pull the wire tightly, adjusting the beads as necessary to remove any slack in the wire and to ensure that the wire is completely covered up by the beads. This is a good time to count all the beads and double check your pattern to be sure the beads are in the order you desire. If not, make the necessary changes before proceeding to the next step.
  13. Using a pair of chain nose pliers, flatten the crimp tube as tightly as possible.
  14. Using a set of side (flush) wire cutters, cut the remaining wire off as close to the beads as possible.
  15. Enjoy your beads! Blessings!

(excerpted from my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads) (Upper Room Books)

Make Your Own Prayer Beads: Instructional Video

9 Responses to Making Prayer Beads for Lent

  1. I found your blog a few months ago and it’s one of my absolute favorites! I love making jewelry just as a hobby, but when I started making prayer beads, it really gave me a since of purpose for my hobby. I’m starting a prayer ministry that correlates with my blog and I have this great vision of all of these things that I’d like to accomplish through it, but I had no idea how I was going to fund it. To make a long story short, I’m going to make prayer beads and sell them as a way to help fund it. So, I owe you a huge thank you because I had never made them before nor did I realize the meaning behind them. I learned everything from your site and your instructions, so again, thank you so much and infinite blessings to you! :-)

    • Tai –

      Thanks for your kinds words! And how exciting to hear what the prayer beads have meant to you and you may be able to use them to support your ministry! That is wonderful. Keep me posted! May God guide and bless you.

      Kristen

  2. Hi Kristen,
    I am the Chaplain at a Continuing Care Retirement Community and have planned to make prayer beads for/with about 24 of our personal care residents. I wondered if you had instructions on making prayer beads or strands with cord and bigger beads? Could you put together kits for us? What would the cost be? Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Barbara Albert
    Chaplain
    Green Ridge Village
    Newville, PA

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    • Barbara –

      I love that you want to share the gift of prayer beads with the member of your Community! I will contact you directly to discuss the options.

      Peace, Kristen

  3. Hello, I have been making prayer beads since your first book came out and I give them to people in my church who are in hospital or suffering. Many of them are cancer victims. Also I make chaplet beads to give as agape during men’s and women’s Emmaus Walks. That has been very rewarding. I am serving on the next Women’s Walk, but I am considering doing a Lenten prayer beads study at my church based on your second book. Thanks for introducing me to a very rewarding way to share my faith with others. Sincerely, Viki Hyslop Springfield, OH

    • Vicki – It is wonderful to hear about your prayer bead ministry! What a great gift you are giving to people who need to know of God’s comforting, healing presence! And I’m excited to know you may be leading a Lenten study on the second book! Grace and peace, Kristen