Unorthodox Prayer Ropes


The Unorthodox Prayer Rope

Virtually every religion on earth has some kind of bead tradition. Christianity is no different.

The Orthodox tradition of Christian faith has long been part of the Christian bead tradition. The prayer rope is part of that tradition.

Some years ago I developed an interest in Orthodox prayer ropes. Because of a long personal history with the Boy Scouts and four years as a “Top-Side” sailor in the Navy, knots have been of some interest to me and after buying an Orthodox Prayer Rope I started looking into learning to tie the rope.

Orthodox prayer ropes use a special knot. It is said that once tied, even the devil can’t untie it. It is probably because it is incredibly difficult to tie it is equally difficult to untie. Despite many hours of trying, I was successful in tying the know only once.

Still interested in ropes, I started searching for a knot I could tie. I discovered the “Crown Knot.” While still complicated, it is much easier than the traditional Orthodox knot.

These ropes are called “Unorthodox Prayer Rope” because of the differences between my ropes and the traditional Orthodox rope. One difference, of course, is the knot. Additionally, traditional Orthodox ropes are made from wool. Your rope is made from nylon paracord. Additionally, traditional Orthodox ropes have a cross that is also made from the wool cord and traditional knots. These ropes feature an olive wood cross. Orthodox prayer ropes are made in 33, 50 or 100 knot lengths. Unorthodox ropes are all 50 knot lengths.

There is no wrong way to use beads or prayer ropes. The traditional use of an Orthodox Prayer rope is one way. It is most often used as a counter in repeating “The Jesus Prayer” which says, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” The person praying begins with the largest knot (where the cross is tied in) inviting God to join you in prayer. Then beginning with the first knot pray the Jesus Prayer with each knot around the circle.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, find your own method that works for you. The real key is to move you closer to God in prayer. Ropes and beads are tools to help you in that effort.


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

8 thoughts on “Unorthodox Prayer Ropes

    1. Alan, much like you make prayer beads, I make prayer ropes. I call them unorthodox because of the differences between what I make and actual Orthodox prayer ropes which are available on several websites.

      1. Have you published the instructions? I like yours better. I have a rosary from a church in Louisiana made of knots. Yours, Being a bit different is extremely interesting because the user can make there own tradition as you suggested. Is it easy enough for kids? Love it.

      2. I had printed the instructions and gave them with ropes I made/sold (I was selling a few to help pay our apportionments). This week I posted the instructions you are commenting on, on my personal website. Where else would you suggest I post them?

      3. I haven’t been selling them since year end. I may sell some again at some point in the future if we struggle with apportionment payout again next year. I also have learned to tie rosaries (I’ve made one) and ACTS or Anglican ropes (I’ve made one of them as well) but right now I am focused on the 50 knot ropes. I have been trying to get them made for my church members and made them for others too. I will get you on my list but I am having a minor surgical procedure on my left hand next week and that will keep me from working on them for a bit.

      4. Most of what is on my page are blog posts. I just posted the prayer ropes so people would have some kind of idea how to begin using them until they figured out what works for them.

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