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Lutherans and Prayer Beads

Many people are familiar with the prayer beads used by Roman Catholic parishioners (also called the rosary), but those used by the Lutheran church are likely to be somewhat less known. There are at least two options for Lutherans. One is a longer string, called the Lenten rosary, while the other is a smaller, bracelet-sized string. Another name for the smaller version is the Pearls of Life, and they look much different from the Catholic rosary. It is also possible to create one’s own set of reminder beads.

Lenten Rosary

The Lenten rosary is made up of 43 small beads, 7 larger ones, and a cross pendant. 36 of the beads are one color, with two of another color and five of a third (although they can be all the same color; changing colors can help to remember what these particular ones stand for). It is arranged with a tail that contains three of the third-color beads and ends in the cross pendant, then, counterclockwise, a color-two bead and three beads, then 5 sets of one large followed by six small, and finishing with one large, three small, color-3, color-2, color-3, then the last large bead. The large beads represent Sundays, followed by weekday beads.

Because it was created for Lent, it covers the weeks and days of the Lenten season. Each bead is a reminder of the prayers throughout the time period. 

Lutheran Rosary (Longworth)

This rosary was adapted from the Lenten rosary and is made with 40 smaller beads, 6 larger ones, and a cross pendant. These are arranged in six groups of six, separated by the larger beads, with the four extra beads on a “tail” that leads to the cross pendant. 

It is meant to be used beginning and ending at the pendant, using Martin Luther’s Smaller Catechism. The pendant is for the cross, followed by the 10 commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, baptism, confession, sacrament of the altar, and back to the cross.

Pearls of Life

The Pearls of Life (sometimes called Wreath of Christ) were originally developed fairly recently – in 1995 – by a Bishop Emeritus from Sweden who was inspired by Kombologia beads used by fishermen in Greece, even though those beads have nothing to do with prayer. The beads are arranged in a particular order, with each having a meaning to aid in prayer.  The usual configuration contains 18 beads, of which one is larger and gold-colored, six are oblong, and the others are various round beads, as defined below.

  • First, at the top, is a bigger gold bead which represents God. In the same way that the Lord’s Prayer begins with honoring God, this set of prayer beads begins with God and lifting Him up. 
  • The oblong beads are dividers to remind to “be still” and take time to listen to what God has to say. 
  • A small white bead is one’s self, followed immediately by a larger white bead that reminds about baptism.
  • A brown bead represents trials and temptations, such as Christ suffered in the desert.
  • A blue bead represents contentment. This is a reminder to be thankful.
  • Two red beads represent love – one for love one gives and one for love one receives.
  • Three small white beads represent the mysteries of God.
  • A black bead represents death. It can also represent night.
  • The last white bead reminds of the resurrection.

There are no pre-written prayers for this bead set; it can be used with your own or with Lutheran prayer recommendations.

Create Your Own

Because the mind tends to wander, it can be helpful to create a string of beads to help keep focused. Ben Unseth created his own set that reminds him to pray for the people and things that matter to him – beginning with a bead to remind him of God, followed by one for each family member, three for community, nation, and world, a coin for financial needs or thanks, a black one for confession, a small one for those who are needy, and several others for personal reminders. 

This type of prayer beads will necessarily be different for everyone who creates one, as all have different family sizes, different needs and challenges, and different things one wants to remember to pray for. 

Resources

Product

Visual

Where to Buy

Wood Bead Box DIY Kit

Assorted Loose Beads

Natural Stone Beads

100 Amazonite Stone Beads

Beads of Healing

Praying with Beads

A Bead and a Prayer

Another Bead, Another Prayer

 

Wood Bead Box DIY Kit

This set comes with enough wooden beads, thread, and additional pieces to create one finished project. It contains instructions for a standard rosary, but instructions for a Lutheran version can be found online easily.

Assorted Loose Beads

This kit includes 12 ounces of miscellaneous colored beads in four sizes plus a thousand metal beads and 25 feet of stretch cord. This selection is perfect for making personalized prayer bead strings for the whole family.

Natural Stone Beads

Choose 6mm, 8mm, or 10mm and get 100 beads made from such natural stones as amethyst, obsidian, lava stone, tiger eye, and more. Great for color-coding a string of prayer beads, this set has enough beads to make several strings.

100 Amazonite Stone Beads

These beautiful light green, white, orange, and brown beads will make a beautiful prayer bead bracelet.

Beads of Healing

This book explains the author’s discovery of prayer beads and how they helped her deepen her relationship with God after a traumatic experience. Use with any set of prayer beads (not included).

Praying with Beads

The daily prayers in this book were originally intended to be used with Anglican beads but can be adapted to any prayer beads. Encourage a more regular, more effective prayer life through the use of beads as reminders for daily prayer.

A Bead and a Prayer

This beginner’s guide to prayer beads for non-Catholics offers instruction on creating your own prayer beads, suggested prayers or focuses, and how to use the beads for a healthy prayer life.

Another Bead, Another Prayer

A sequel to the above book, this one offers devotions to use with prayer beads. It contains 28 devotions that can be used daily for four weeks, or less often for a longer study period.

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