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picture of knotted prayer rope

  1. Using the Prayer Rope

    1. Hold the prayer rope in the left hand, leaving the right hand free for making the sign of the cross, if desired. Start with the first knot to the right of the cross.
    2. Breath in slowly and say, either silently or aloud, "Jesus Christ."
    3. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then breath out slowly and say, "Son of God."
    4. Breath in and say, "Have mercy on me."
    5. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then breath out and say, "A sinner."
    6. Move to the next knot and repeat.

The St. Pachomius Prayer Rule

As compiled and emended from various sources. [36]

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us.

Amen.

Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places and fillest all things, Who art the treasury of good-things and the giver of life; come and make Thine abode in us, and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All-Holy Trinity, have mercy upon us. O Lord, purify us from our sins. O Master, forgive us our transgressions. O Holy One, look down upon us, and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven: give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and let us not be brought into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us.

Amen.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

О come, let us worship, and bow down to our King and God.

О come, let us worship, and bow down to Christ, our King and God.

О come, let us worship, and bow down to Christ Himself, our King and God.

Psalm L (50)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out my lawlessness. Wash me thoroughly from my lawlessness, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my lawlessness, and my sin is before me continually. Against Thee alone did I sin and commit evil before Thee, so that Thou shouldest be justified in Thy words and shouldest prevail when Thou art judged. For, behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me! For, behold, Thou didst love truth! The secret and hidden things, of Thy wisdom didst Thou make manifest to me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones having been humbled, they shall rejoice exceedingly. Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my lawless deeds. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew an upright spirit in mine inmost parts. Do not ever cast me away from Thy presence; and Thy Spirit, the Holy One, do not ever take away from me. Restore to me the great joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit support me. I shall teach lawless ones Thy ways, and impious ones shall return to Thee. O God, the God of my salvation, deliver me from the guilt of shedding blood; my tongue shall rejoice exceedingly in Thy righteousness. Thou, O Lord, shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Thy praise. For if Thou didst wish sacrifice, I would have given it; Thou shalt not find pleasure in whole burnt-offerings. A sacrifice to God is a spirit having been made contrite; a heart having been made contrite and humble God will not treat with contempt. Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure to Sion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be built. Then shalt Thou find pleasure in a sacrifice of righteousness, in oblation and whole burnt-offerings. Then shall they offer young bulls upon Thine altar.

The Symbol of Faith

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light from Light, vегу God of vегу God, begotten, not made, Being of one Essence with the Father, bу whom аll things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation, сomе down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Маrу, and was made Маn; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right of the Father; And shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be nо end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and glorified, who spake bу the Prophets. In оnе, holy, catholic, and apostolic Сhurch. I confess оnе Baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the Rеsurrection of the dead, And the life in the ages to come. Amen.

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy, on me.  (100 Times)

The Dismissal

The Theotokion of the Anaphora

It is truly meet to call thee blessed, the Theotokos; the ever-blessed, and most pure, and Mother of our God. More-honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim; who didst bear without corruption God the Word: thee, verily the Theotokos, we magnify.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

O Lord, Bless.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the intercessions of Thy all-pure Mother, of our reverend and God-bearing fathers, and of all the Saints, have mercy upon us and save us, as the only Good One and Lover of man. Amen.

 

Connection with St. Seraphim

It is said by some that St. Seraphim of Sarov used the rosary as a prayer rule to the Theotokos. Supporting evidence shows that this may be true, seeing that one of his spiritual children, Fr. Zosima, wrote:

"...Say the 0 Hail, Mother of God and Virgin one hundred and fifty times... This rule was given by the Mother of God herself in about the eighth century... We Orthodox have forgotten about it, and St. Seraphim has reminded me of this Rule. In my hands I have a hand-written book from the cell of St. Seraphim, containing a description of the many miracles which took place through praying to the Mother of God and especially through saying one hundred and fifty times the O Hail, Mother of God and Virgin... Whomever he spoke to about this miracle-working Rule remained grateful to him...".

The Revd S.C. Hughson, Order of the Holy Cross (Anglican), wrote in 1918:

‘Almost any encyclopædia will inform the reader that the use of beads in prayer is far older than Christianity itself and belongs to almost every race which has any highly developed system of prayer.

‘It will be a surprise to many, no doubt, to know that our common English word bead is derived from the Saxon word bid, to pray, the derivation arising from the fact that our ancestors made common use of perforated pebbles, or beads, upon which to count their prayers. It will be news even to most Catholics to learn that instead of their Rosaries being spoken of as beads because of a resemblance to the common ornament of the name, the ornament takes its name from the Rosary.’

X = Make the sign of the cross.

Start at the crucifix:

X In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life, come dwell within us, cleanse us from all our sins and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

From Easter until Ascension leave out Glory to Thee and Heavenly King and instead say three times Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. From Ascension until Pentecost, simply make the sign of the cross — In the Name of the Father — before continuing as usual with:

X Holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Three times)

X Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Most holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. O Master, pardon our transgressions. O Holy One, visit us and heal our infirmities for Thy Name’s sake. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

X Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Then at the first large bead on the pendant:

X Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Lord, have mercy. (12 times)

X Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

X O come, let us worship God our King.
X O come, let us worship and bow down before Christ, our King and our God.
X O come, let us worship and bow down before Christ Himself, our King and our God.

Then you may say Psalm 50 (51), Have mercy upon me, O God — or another appropriate psalm — and the Nicene Creed, I believe in one God, the Father almighty.

Then at the first small bead on the pendant:

X Glory to the Father, who hast made us, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

Then at the second small bead on the pendant:

X Glory to the Son, who hast redeemed us, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you have given birth to the Saviour of our soul

Most glorious ever virgin, blessed Mother of Christ Our God, present our prayer to thy Son and our God, and pray that through thee He may save our souls. Amen (added for use for western rite converts)

Then at the third small bead on the pendant:

X Glory to the Holy Spirit, who hast enlightened us, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God...

X Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

 The decades or mysteries are as in the Latin (Dominican) Rosary, with an Our Father, 10 ‘Rejoice O Virgin Mother of God’ (Hail Mary) prayers and the ‘Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit’. After each decade one may say the Fátima prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

 The mysteries are:

Meditations

  • Meditation 1- The Birth of the Theotokos

  • Meditation 2- The Presentation of the Theotokos

  • Meditation 3- The Annunciation of the Lord's Birth

  • Meditation 4- The Meeting of the Theotokos and St. Elizabeth

  • Meditation 5- The Birth of the Lord

  • Meditation 6- The Prophecy of St. Simeon

  • Meditation 7- The Flight into Egypt

  • Meditation 8- The Boy-Christ among the Doctors

  • Meditation 9- The Wedding of Cana

  • Meditation 10- The Crucifixion of the Lord

  • Meditation 11- The Resurrection of the Lord

  • Meditation 12- The Ascension of the Lord into Heaven

  • Meditation 13- Pentecost

  • Meditation 14- The Dormition of the Virgin Theotokos

  • Meditation 15- The Crowning of the Theotokos by the Blessed Trinity

This last prayer is from the Akathist to the Mother of God, an important Marian devotion in the Orthodox Church.

MON, THUR, SUN: It is truly proper to glorify thee, who hast borne God, the ever-blessed and immaculate and the Mother of our God! More honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim art thou, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word. Thee, truly the Mother of God, we magnify!

TUES, FRI: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our prayers in our necessities but deliver us from all danger, O glorious and ever-blessed Virgin.

X Most holy Mother of God, save us. (Three times with bows)

WED, SAT: To thee, the Champion Leader, we thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Mother of God: but as one with invincible might, from all dangers deliver us that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

The 15 promises of Mary to Christians who recite the Rosary
Given to St Dominic and Blessed Alan


This is devotion, not dogma, but very nice.


Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.

I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.

The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the rosary, shall not perish.

Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.

The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.

You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.

All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

All who recite the rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.

Devotion of my rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Saying the Rosary good for soul — and heart
By Cameron Simpson

SAYING the rosary is good for the heart as well as the soul. According to research by Italian scientists, reciting the rosary has a similar effect to the Eastern practice of yoga.

Espoused by celebrities such as Madonna and Geri Halliwell, the practice of yoga slows breathing and induces a favourable effect on the heart’s rhythm.

Luciano Bernardi, associate professor of internal medicine at Pavia University, recorded breathing rates in 23 healthy adults during normal talking, recitation of the rosary, yoga mantras, and six minutes of controlled breathing.

Breathing was markedly more regular during the rosary and the mantra and was slowed to about six breaths a minute. The results mean yoga enhances ‘aspects’ of heart and lung function and might be viewed as a health practice as well as a religious practice, he said.

The benefits of breathing exercises in yoga have long been reported, and mantras may have evolved as a simple device to slow respiration, improve concentration, and induce calm, Professor Bernardi says in this week’s British Medical Journal.

Similarly, the rosary may have partly evolved because it synchronised with the body’s natural heart rhythms, and thus gave a feeling of well-being, and perhaps an increased responsiveness to the religious message, he said.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland was not surprised by the findings of the therapeutic benefits of saying the rosary. He said: ‘It’s good to know that spiritual health and physical health are linked. This proves what people thought long ago — that a healthy mind is linked to a healthy body.’

Prof Bernardi also notes the historic and cultural links between yoga mantras and Catholic chants. He said: ‘It’s what the Church has been offering for centuries. ‘Saying these prayers can lead to a calming and enhanced feeling of well-being.’

The Herald, Friday, 21st December 2001

More on the Rosary
By Dr Alex Roman

St Dmitri of Rostov, a Russian Orthodox, said the Rosary.

He also practised the Western devotion of saying a ‘Hail Mary’ at the start of every hour, including throughout the night — what a hardy individual.

He also venerated the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, for which he was called up on the carpet by the Synod in St Petersburg. (A Conservative Site for Peace’s webmaster notes: I’ve read somewhere the Russian Old Believers did too. Read Q&A for more on the Immaculate Conception, which Orthodoxy never has dogmatized about, positive or negative. The Byzantine Rite used by the Orthodox calls Mary ‘immaculate’ — пренепорочная.)

He also wrote movingly about the ‘Wounded Heart’ of our Lord Jesus Christ, so much so that a priest I knew who didn’t like the Orthodox exclaimed, ‘That Orthodox person must really BE a saint to write so wonderfully!!’

The Orthodox Church even believes that the Rosary was first revealed to an Eastern monk in the 8th century where our Lady asked the people to say it daily and from the East it spread throughout the world. (This page’s author notes: I’ve never heard this before. Most authorities believe St Dominic introduced the Rosary in its commonly known form to the Roman Catholic Church around 1200.)

To this day, in Russian and Greek monasteries, monks and nuns say up to 150 Hail Marys with prostrations at the end.

The Old Believers of Russia always end their ‘Hail Mary’ (which is also the version used by the Ukrainian Catholic Church) in this way: ‘For Thou hast given birth to Christ the Saviour, the Redeemer of our souls’ or ‘Бo Tы пoрoдилa Христa Спaсa, Избaвитeля душъ нaшихъ.’

One brings one’s fingers to one’s head for ‘Христа’, then down to the belly for ‘Спaса’, then to the right shoulder for ‘Избaвитeля’, the left for ‘душъ’ and then one bows for ‘нaшихъ’.

Believe it or not...

The Byzantine Forum, Tuesday, 8th January 2002

Did you know... that the Western form of the Hail Mary wasn’t completed until St Pius V had it printed in the Breviary in 1568? Before that, the West used a shorter form much like the Byzantine Rite.

 

Comboschini (The Prayer Rope)

Meditations of a Monk of the Holy Mountain Athos


Preface

A few years ago, with the blessings of the very reverend Father Joseph, Abbot of the Xiropotamos Monastery of the Holy Mountain Athos, we reprinted, in a booklet, the most didactic article about the prayer rope, which had been published in "Agioritiki Martiria," a magazine issued by the Xiropotamos Monastery.

Due to the fact that the booklet proved very helpful and because of the pastoral needs of all the English speaking Orthodox brothers around the world, it was suggested that we should proceed and publish this booklet in English.

We have to thank the very reverend Father Joseph, Abbot of the Xiropotamos Monastery, for his offer and his love.

The prayer rope is not intended to be used only by monks, but it can also be used by laymen and, generally, by anyone who wants to pray to God. The prayer rope is not some kind of amulet with magic or exorcising powers, like those given to simple-minded people by magicians or mediums, worn on the wrist or round the neck. On the contrary, it is a purely Orthodox holy object used only for praying and nothing else. We use the prayer rope in order to pray secretly.

At this point we have to note something very important: there are many books that refer to the prayer. However, before we start following any rule or prayer, we must necessarily ask for the advice, the blessing and the spiritual guidance of our spiritual father, i.e. the Priest to whom we confess our sins. That is what the Holy Fathers have taught us for centuries, in order to avoid delusion and, thus, not to lose the right Orthodox path.

There are two ways we can pray using the prayer rope:

  1. At any time of the day when we have free time, without being seen by anyone, secretly, we hold the prayer rope with our left or right hand and move from knot to knot with our thumb whispering simultaneously or meditating upon the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me" or "Most Holy Theotokos save us".

  2. At the time of our regular prayer, when we pray following the rule of prayer that our spiritual father has told us to follow, we hold the prayer rope with our left hand between the thumb and the index finger and move from knot to knot. At each knot we simultaneously do two things: i) with our right hand we make the sign of the cross over ourselves and ii) we say the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me". When we finish with all the knots of the prayer rope, we continue following the same procedure, for as many times as our spiritual father has told us to.

We hope that all our brothers and sisters in Christ will be helped by this little book, which is the result of the experience of an anonymous Monk of the Holy Mountain Athos. We also hope that everyone will use the prayer rope in the way our Holy Fathers have taught us, even if one lives in a society and not in a monastery.

—Thessaloniki, Greece Archimandrite Joseph

Prayer ropes come in a great variety of forms and sizes. Most prayer ropes have a cross woven into them or attached to mark the "end", and also have some kind of marker after each 10, 25, or 50 knots or beads. There are many forms of prayer ropes, some knotted of wool or silk, or other more elegant or simpler materials. Others are made of beads or the dried flower of a plant called "Tears of the Mother of God".

The prayer rope is one of the items given to an Orthodox Christian monk at the time of tonsure: it is given to him as his spiritual sword with which he, as a soldier of Christ, must make war against our spiritual enemy, the devil. This sword is wielded by calling on the name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ in a plea for mercy on me a sinner. This prayer can be said in a shorter form, such as: "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me"; or in a longer form, as: "By the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos and all the Saints, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me".

Other short prayers: the prayer of the publican: "God be merciful to me a sinner" (see: Luke 18:13), the prayer to the Mother of God: "Most Holy Theotokos save us", or other short prayers to the Guardian Angel, to individual saints or to all the saints can also be offered with the assistance of the prayer rope. A common form of such a prayer is: Holy Guardian Angel—or Saint (name)—pray to God for me. By changing the words of these short prayers and saying: "have mercy on us", or "pray for us", or by including the name or names of persons we want to pray for, we can also use the prayer rope for intercessory prayers. This also applies to those already departed this life: "Give rest O Lord to the soul of Thy servant."

When monks carry the prayer rope in their hands, it serves as a reminder of their obligation to pray unceasingly. In keeping with the commandment of the Holy Apostle Paul to "pray without ceasing". Anyone can keep a prayer rope in a pocket or some other discreet place where it can be easily used unnoticed when in situations where it is better to pray or remember prayer in secret, without attracting the attention of others. The prayer rope can also be placed over the head of our bed, in an automobile, with a small cross or icon, or in other appropriate places as a reminder of prayer and a kind of blessing and a holy and godly presence in our lives.

But now, let us discuss briefly the primary use for which this prayer rope was made. The whole purpose of the prayer rope is to assist us in offering our prayers before God and His Saints. In addition to serving as an external reminder and a blessing present with us, how can this little rope help us to pray? We can pray without a prayer rope, of course, and there are times when using the prayer rope may become a distraction for us in our attempts to concentrate in prayer. With that in mind, let us consider some ways in which the prayer rope can be of assistance.

There are times when our prayer is fervent and it is easy for us to pray. There are times when our thoughts are so distracted that we find it virtually impossible to concentrate on prayer. This is especially true when we try to keep a rule of prayer each day. Some days it goes very well, but other times—if not most of the time?—our efforts seem almost to be in vain. But because we are "creatures of habit", as the saying goes, it is very profitable for us to set apart a special and regular time (or times) during the day for prayer. The time in the evening before going to bed is a good time, as it is important to end the day with prayer. The morning, upon awakening from sleep, is also good, so as to begin the new day with prayer. Or a person may find other times during the day when he is able to be quiet and concentrate.

We are trying to establish a rule of prayer in our lives, not an exception, so we want to find a time when each day we can find some quiet in order to concentrate and turn the eyes of our soul towards God.

We may want to read some prayers form a prayer book as part of this rule, or offer prayers and find quiet for our souls in other ways, such as reading religious literature, reflecting over the events of the past day—"Anaskopisis" [1]—and so on. But one of the most effective ways to find benefit from a rule of prayer is to say a set number of the Jesus Prayer regularly each day. This does not have to be a large number, and it may take only fifteen minutes or so, but that will be the portion of our day that belongs to God, the little grains of salt that will add savor to our Christian life. This practice is now recommended by many physicians for the sake of a person's physical health, especially in overcoming stress. Better still, find such little pocket of time at various points throughout the day and regularly fill them with the precious treasures of prayer, a treasure no one can steal from you, that is laid up for you in heaven (see: Mat. 6:20).

In maintaining a consistent number of prayers as part of such a daily rule, a prayer rope can be quite helpful. With the prayer rope, you can offer a set number of prayers and concentrate on the words of the prayer as you offer them. After collecting your thoughts, take the cross on the prayer rope in your left hand, holding it lightly between the thumb and the index finger. Then, making the sign of the cross over yourself quietly, whisper the Jesus Prayer. As your thoughts become more concentrated, you may not need to continue crossing yourself or saying the prayer audibly. Other times, when concentration is difficult, use the sign of the cross and whispering as means to help keep your mind on prayer.

It is good to stand, with head bowed, in a humble position; some people like to raise their hands from time to time in their petitions for mercy. But others find it more helpful to sit or kneel, with head bowed, in order to concentrate. A lot depends on the individual and also on his health and upbringing. The important thing is to be able to keep still and concentrate on the words of the prayer as you repeat it.

Of course, a person has to fight off the temptation to "rush". For this reason, some people use a clock instead of a prayer rope as an external measure for their prayer rule. By using a clock, a person can devote a set amount of time to prayer, although he may not keep track of the exact number of prayer he says. But, then again, clocks with electronic beeps are quite a recent development, and keeping a loudly ticking clock that jangles the nerves with a loud alarm bell seldom proves to be a great boon to prayer. So much for traditional use of digital alarm clocks!

The prayer rope is also a convenient way to keep track of the number of bows or prostrations a person makes during his prayer rule. Making the sign of the cross over oneself and then bowing from the waist and touching the ground with one's fingertips, or bowing down on one's knees and touching the forehead to the ground are very ancient ways of offering prayers to God and His Saints. One can combine these bows or prostrations with the Jesus Prayer or any of the short prayers we have mentioned above. The physical action of bowing or kneeling can contribute to the fervor of the prayer and give expression to our supplication, as we humble ourselves before God. This is one way in, which we can carry out the apostolic command to praise God both in our souls and in our bodies. [2] Many people use the prayer rope when they lie down to sleep. After signing their bed with the cross, they take their prayer rope, bless themselves with the sign of the cross as they lie in bed, and quietly pray with the prayer rope until they fall asleep.

And waking up with the prayer rope still in your fingers or next to you on the pillow helps begin the new day with prayer. But ending the previous day with quiet prayer is an even better way to prepare for a prayerful beginning of the new day, not to mention preparing for the Eternal Day should we fall asleep that night in death. And others take their prayer rope in hand during idle moments, such as while commuting or traveling. At any time of the day, whenever you remember to do so, you can take a little prayer rope in your fingers, and the association of that action with the prayer you offer at other times will help you concentrate and offer some prayers during the course of the day whenever you may be, whatever you may be doing. And this is an important step towards fulfilling the commandment to pray without ceasing.

The holy bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov mentions that the lengthy services held in the Orthodox Church are also a good opportunity for praying with the prayer rope. Often there are times when it is difficult to concentrate on the words being read or chanted, and it is easier to concentrate quietly on one's own private prayers, be they extemporaneous prayers for some special need, repeating prayers or psalms that we know by heart, or repeating some short prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer, with the assistance of the prayer rope. In fact, this often helps a person concentrate better on the service itself, something mentioned by St. Seraphim of Sarov. Of course, when we are praying at the services, our prayer is joined to that of the entire Church.

We are constantly occupied by all kinds of thoughts that appear in our heads, and it seems we no sooner start to pray than we catch ourselves thinking about something else. Here again, the physical presence of the prayer rope in our fingers can help us catch ourselves and return to our task of prayer more quickly. Or, meeting up with one of the markers or with the cross on the prayer rope as we move it through our fingers remind us that we have been robbed of the prayers we intended to offer. And immediately we can offer our prayers anew without getting further entangled in our thoughts about how easily we get distracted from prayer to God.

Here we have touched on the great science of prayer, what the holy fathers have named the "art of the arts". There is a great and rich literature written by the great men of prayer from all ages that can help guide us in learning, with God's help, this greatest and most beneficial of all sciences. Regular reading the Holy Gospel, the lives of the saints and other devotional and spiritual literature can be

of great assistance. Such works as the Philokalia contain important and inspiring instruction and direction in learning to pray as a Christian, which is an essential aspect of being a Christian. Above all, however, one needs the grace of God in the Church, especially in communing the Holy Mysteries.

These are just a few introductory thoughts on how we can make good uses of a prayer rope. But the important thing is to start to pray. The prayer rope does not pray by itself, although some of them are so magnificent they may give that impression. Here is an important, traditional aid in offering prayers, and especially for a daily rule of prayer. But the important thing is to concentrate on words of the prayer, to offer heart-felt prayers to Jesus Christ, our Lord and God.

If this little prayer rope helps you to say a prayer or reminds you to pray or helps you in some way to become more prayerful, it will have fulfilled its purpose, it will have tied you more closely and more intimately with Christ our God, and also brought you closer to the Kingdom of God, for "the Kingdom of God is within you." (See: Luke 17:21)

Epilogue

We have to note, once more, that regarding any prayer rule about praying with the prayer rope or any other rule (fasting etc.), the first and the last word has to be said by our spiritual father, in order to avoid delusion, as the Holy Fathers have taught us.

St John Climacus says the following: "Win the enemies in jour mind with the name of God. You will not find any other weapon more effective than this! Similarly you will manage both to appease your passions inside yourself and to efface them with the aid of the prayer".

St. Seraphim of Sarov says: "When mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul is wholly concentrated in a single desire for God, then the heart grows warm and the light of Christ begins to shine and fills the inward man with peace and joy. We should thank the Lord for everything and give ourselves up to His will; we should also offer Him all our thoughts and words, and strive to make everything serve only His good pleasure."

St. Isichios writes about the prayer: "Through the constant remembrance and invocation to Jesus Christ, a holy condition is created in our mind. This happens, if we appeal to Jesus Christ with fervor, crying aloud towards Him in entreaty day and night, so that repetition leads to habit and habit becomes second nature!".

Saint Hieromartyr Cosmas Aetolos (+1779) says: "I advise you to make a Comboschini, all of you, young and old, and hold it in your left hand and cross yourselves with your right hand and say: 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me'".... "I advise all Christians to make Crosses and Comboschinis and I pray to God to bless them, so they can keep them as amulets".

 

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