We love designing and making prayer beads! Even more, we love the testimonies from people who have discovered the gifts and benefits of using beads in prayer.
PURCHASING PRAYER BEADS
Our prayer beads, kits, and books are for sale in our Etsy shop: www.prayerworksstudio.etsy.com
Here are pictures of some of our prayer bead designs. These are just examples and may not still be available. The beads pictured here are Protestant (Anglican) prayer beads. We also offer chaplets and rosaries.
USING PRAYER BEADS
Why prayer beads? Prayer beads can help you focus while praying. They are something that you can hold onto. In a sense, they help to ground you and give you a path to follow during your prayer. They also provide structure and comfort.
And if you have trouble coming up with your own prayers, there are many types of suggested prayers and devotions to use with prayer beads!
What are prayer beads? Prayer beads are sets of beads that are designed to help people pray. The earliest own use of prayer beads was in 3200 B.C. by the ancient Egyptians. Since then, all major religions have used beads to count prayers, including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims (while Jews don’t use beads, they do use knotted fringe on their shawls, called Tzitzit, to count their prayers).
Interestingly, the modern English word “bead” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “bede,” meaning “prayer.”
There are many types of prayer beads: Anglican prayer beads have 33 beads, while Catholic rosaries have 60 beads and Orthodox rosaries have 100 beads.
Aren’t prayer beads only for Catholics? Catholics are best known for their use of rosaries, but prayer beads can be very useful for Protestants as well.
In the 1980’s, an Episcopalian priest developed a model to help Protestants use prayer beads (shown below). Since then, more and more people have begun to use prayer beads to enhance their prayer lives.
What do the beads mean? The beads start with a cross to remind us of Christ’s act of salvation for us. The cross then leads to the “Invitatory Bead,” which can be used as a call to worship to begin your prayer or to recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Our studio has added an additional bead, called the “Resurrection Bead,” to the format for the Anglican prayer beads. It is designed to remind us that Christ still lives and has triumphed over death, and can be used to praise God for the promise of eternal life in His kingdom.
Then there are 4 “Cruciform Beads” that form the shape of the cross (the number 4 reminds us of the four Gospels and the 4 seasons of the year). Between each of these beads are 7 smaller “Week Beads” (the number 7 represents spiritual perfection, and also reminds us of the 7 days of Creation and the 7 seasons of the liturgical year).
The total number of beads is 33, which is meant to remind us of the number of years that Christ lived on earth, plus 1 to represent his resurrection.
How do you use prayer beads? There is no wrong or right way to use prayer beads. You may just want to hold them and finger the beads while you pray. Or you may want to follow the pattern of the beads, praying a specific prayer for each bead. Do what works for you!
We write devotions for prayer beads here on our blog to give you different ideas of how you can use your prayer beads.
MAKING PRAYER BEADS
Making 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!
Interested? We’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 (see above), 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.
5 large (10mm – 12mm) beads
29 medium (8mm – 10mm) beads
36 seed (size #6 or #8) beads
1 cross or other pendant
2 crimp tubes (size 2 x 2)
20 – 24 inches of wire (49-strand, .019 or .018″)
1 pair of chain nose pliers
1 set of side (flush) wire cutters
L = Large bead
M = Medium bead
s = seed bead
- 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.
- 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
- String the crimp tube (this is a critical step!).
- 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
- String 1 L bead.
- String the second section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
- String 1 L bead.
- String the third section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
- String 1 L bead.
- String the fourth section of week beads by repeating Step 4.
- 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.
- 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.
- Using a pair of chain nose pliers, flatten the crimp tube as tightly as possible.
- Using a set of side (flush) wire cutters, cut the remaining wire off as close to the beads as possible.
- Enjoy your beads! Blessings!
(excerpted from my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads (Upper Room Books 2013))