Prayer Beads

By Beth Fulmer

Synod Communicator, Messiah Mauldin

Allice Mackell is a retired Methodist minister. When she was ordained as an elder, she received a gift. The gift was Protestant prayer beads. Since that time, her passion for creating prayer beads has grown and with that talent, her love for sharing that passion has also grown.

Alice conducted two workshops at Messiah Lutheran Church during which she taught many participants how to make the prayer beads and explained the significance of each bead. Every prayer bead created was unique; however, the structure was the same.

Olive wood crosses from the Holy Land were used and a very thin metal wire was at-tached to each. Picking out a cross was the first step. Choosing a large bead and a medium size bead were steps two and three. Once everyone had all their beads, an instruction sheet was given to each participant and everyone began threading beads according to the detailed directions.

Starting at the cross, one large bead was threaded followed by a medium size bead, followed by another large bead. From there, it was seven medium size beads, then a large bead and the process proceeded as such; seven medium size beads followed by a large bead. This was repeated four times, using twenty-eight small beads and four large beads. When the circle was complete, a medium size bead was used followed by the VERY small crimp bead to keep the beads tightly together.

If you’ve been counting, the first large bead is called the invitatory bead and is not a part of the total number of beads. Not counting that bead and the second bead (the resurrection bead), you end up with thirty-three beads, the number of years that our Lord and Savior inhabited our earth.

Upon completion, you immediately note that the prayer beads are too small for a neck-lace and too large for a bracelet. They are made to be held while in prayer. The large bead not used in the circle is the resurrection bead which represents that Jesus is alive today.

The first set of seven are for praising God; the second set is for confessing; the third set is praying for God’s help (for someone who is sick, etc.); and the fourth set is for thanking God. After that, the resurrection bead, and the last large bead is thanking God. The cross, of course, signifies the end of your prayer with “Amen.”

The Protestant beads are different from Catholic beads (Rosaries) in several ways. A Rosary has five sets of ten beads. A Rosary is also very structured; whereas, the Protestant prayer bead allows one to pray for specific needs. These are just two ways that they differ; there are many more.

Protestant prayer beads are not magic beads. As Ms. Mackell so aptly ended, “Prayer doesn’t change God; prayer changes us.”

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