(Prayer ropes are available at: https://www.monasteryicons.com/category/prayer-ropes)
This video is an introduction to the Prayer of Jesus (the Jesus prayer, Hesychasm, the Holy Name of Jesus) and the use of the prayer rope (chotki or komboskini).
“I felt there was no happier person on earth than I, and I doubted if there could be greater and fuller happiness in the kingdom of heaven. The whole outside world seemed to me full of charm and delight. Everything drew me to love and thank God: people, trees, plans, and animals. I saw them all as my kinfolk; I found on all of them the magic of the Name of Jesus.”
These are the words of an unknown Russian peasant who wandered as a pilgrim through 19th century Russia, with only his Bible, his rosary, and some dried bread, visiting monasteries, shrines, and churches, seeking to know the way to fulfill Saint Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing.” The account of his spiritual journey is immortalized in the book “The Way of a Pilgrim,” in which we discover how he learned the Jesus Prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” – and how this prayer became the center of his life.
From apostolic times to the present day, Christians throughout the world have experienced for themselves the blessing, protection, and presence of Christ that can be found through repeated invocation of Holy Name of Jesus. This simple prayer, more than any other, could right be considered Christian meditation.
It is known as interior prayer, the prayer of the heart, or among the Greek fathers as “hesychasm,” which simply means “the silence,” referring to the inner peace that those who pray the Jesus Prayer can experience in their hearts and minds.
The Jesus Prayer has been the center of the spiritual lives of countless saints in the Church – the fathers of the Egyptian desert, great fathers of the Church like Saint John Chrysostom, well-known saints of the Greek Orthodox Church such as Saint Nectarios of Aegina, and the most beloved saints of the Russian Orthodox Church: Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Saint John of Kronstadt.
Saint John Chrysostom: "Abide constantly with the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the heart swallows the Lord and the Lord the heart, and the two become one."
Saint Nectarios: "Seek God every day, but in your heart, and not outside of it."
Saint Seraphim: "Only those who have interior prayer and watch over their souls receive the gifts of grace."
Saint John of Kronstadt: "In the Name of Jesus Christ dwells Christ Himself, wholly, His soul and body, united to the Godhead."
Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and meditation upon it, can also be found in Western Christianity. Outstanding examples of saints who practiced and preached this are Saint Augustine, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Bernardine of Siena, and Saint Richard Rolle. The more common form of this prayer in the West was simply the name of Jesus, repeated singly, or in groups of two or three repetitions: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
The Jesus Prayer is not limited to monks and nuns only, and has been used to great benefit by lay people of all classes.
[Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov: "The Jesus Prayer is suitable for all people of God without exception, whether monks or lay people. It is a safe way for beginners, that is open to all."
To keep the mind from wandering and to keep count of their repetitions of the Jesus prayer, it is customary to use a rosary known as a prayer rope, which is commonly made of knotted wool or satin. In fact, the terms used for prayer ropes in Russian - “chotki” - and in Greece - komboskini -- simply mean knot string, or string of knots.
Monastery Icons now offers a selection of high quality prayer ropes. These are hand made by Orthodox Christian nuns in a convent near Athens, Greece. The sisters use a traditional method of intricately weaving strands of wool or satin, with their minds at prayer while their hands are at work.
The 100-knot and 50-knot prayer ropes are favorites for private prayer at home or in church. The 33-knot rosary bracelet and the 12-knot finger rosary are convenient ways of literally having the Prayer of Jesus at hand -- helpful reminders to pray without ceasing, as Saint Paul exhorted us.