Prayer rope, Wool, with a blue bead
From Mt. Athos
Black color with blue bead
A prayer rope (Greek: κομποσκοίνι, komboskini; Russian: чётки, chotki (most common term) or вервица, vervitsa (literal translation); Romanian: metanii / metanier; Macedonian and Serbian: бројаница, broyanitsa; Bulgarian: броеница, broyenitsa) is a loop made up of complex knots The prayer rope is a part of the habit of Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns and is employed by monastics (and infrequently by others) to count the number of times one has prayed the Jesus Prayer or, every so often, other prayers. Historically, the prayer rope would typically have 100 knots, even though prayer ropes with 50 or 33 knots can also be found in use today. Hermits in their cells may have prayer ropes with as many as 300 or 500 knots in them. The prayer rope is symbolizing the flock of Christ though in modern times other materials are used also. The traditional color of the rope is black (symbolizing mourning for one’s sins), with either black or colored beads. The beads (if they are colored) and at least a portion of the tassel are traditionally red, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the blood of the martyrs. In recent times, then again, prayer ropes have been made in all kinds of colors. When praying, the user normally holds the prayer rope in the left hand, leaving the right hand free to make the Sign of the Cross. When not in use, the prayer rope is traditionally wrapped around the left wrist so that it continues to remind one to pray without ceasing. If this is impractical, it may be placed in the (left) pocket, but must not be hung around the neck or suspended from the belt. The reason for this is humility: one must not be ostentatious or conspicuous in displaying the prayer rope for others to see.
Throughout their tonsure (religious profession) Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns receive a prayer rope, with the words: Accept, O brother (sister) (name), the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) in the everlasting Jesus prayer by which you’ll have the name of the Lord in your soul, your thoughts, and your heart, saying all the time: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Orthodoxy regards the prayer rope as the sword of the Spirit, because prayer which is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit is a weapon that defeats the Devil.