Prayer beads have been used for centuries as an aid to meditation or prayer by those of many different religions. Individual beads may represent separate prayers or people who are being prayed for. The word bead is actually derived from the Old English word bede which means a prayer. Fingering the beads, which can be made of stone, wood, or other material, creates a tactile experience which allows the person praying to concentrate more deeply.
Pebbles or knotted ropes were used to count prayers by the Desert Fathers starting around the 4th century. Most people are familiar with the Roman Catholic version of prayer beads, the Rosary, which is said to have been introduced in the 13th century.
A Rosary for Anglicans was introduced in the 1980s and there are other Protestant versions of prayer beads such as the Pearls of Life, which were invented by a bishop of the Swedish Lutheran Church.
Prayer beads can be purchased or made; there are many websites which sell beads or have instructions on making and using them. If you live in or near Long Island, PRC will be presenting a workshop on Saturday, September 26, at the Presbyterian Church of Bridgehampton. The workshop will be held from 10 AM until 12 noon and led by PRC consultant Karen Smith. Participants will make prayer beads; there is a fee of $10 for materials. To register or for more information, contact PRC at 631-821-2255 or 631-486-4350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.