Have you ever struggled with fidgety hands while you pray? Though sitting quietly and still is good for us, it is also okay to move while praying.
That’s one reason taking a prayer walk can be so refreshing: we talk to God while we are walking around. It’s also why I sometimes pray while creating art. My hands are busy making something while my heart and mind are talking to God.
When I first heard of prayer beads, I was taking a class on spiritual direction with children, and my mind went to the rosary. But I’m not Catholic, so I wasn’t sure they were for me or the kids that I work with.
And then… then I spotted some prayer beads online, and they were so absolutely beautiful. I immediately felt drawn to them. They were crafted out of Job’s Tears beads, and the symbolism wasn’t lost on me.
I thought I’d give them a try. So I ordered them and then started looking up information related to prayer beads.
More About Prayer Beads
Most prayer beads are created in a sort of necklace shape–a circle with a “pendant” end, usually a cross.
If you look closely at prayer beads, you’ll usually find four beads that are set apart. The ones that I ordered use three spacer beads on each side of them instead of the typical one spacer bead. If you look at the four beads, they represent the cross.
Our Job’s Tears Bead Garland, however, forms a simple line instead of the “necklace” shape. There are 40 Job’s Tears Beads, 40 being a common biblical number that usually represents a time of trial or testing:
- Moses’ 40 years in the desert, and then 40 years leading the Israelites in the wilderness
- Moses being on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights
- Ezekiel laying on his side for 40 days to represent Judah’s sins
- Elijah going without food and water for 40 days
- Jesus being tempted by the devil after 40 days of fasting
You get the point. Definitely worth a Bible study if you want to dive more into that!
The Job’s Tears beads are natural in color. Ours are white/soft gray. Others have more of a blue or green coloring. Note that the shape of the beads themselves resemble a teardrop.
I chose the Job’s Tears beads because I loved the symbolism behind it. Job, after all, was a man who experienced intense sorrow and grief. Remembering his story is encouraging to me when those moments of heartache hit.
“I pour out my tears to God.”Job 16:20 NLT
On each end of our garland is also a small ivory bead and a rosewood bead. The rosewood beads are from Laos, where some missionary friends of ours are serving. So using these rosewood beads is very significant for us and helps us remember our friends–and all missionaries–in prayer.
And, of course, there is a tassel on each end to complete the bead garland. Ours is a tan color to stay with the natural look and feel of the garland.
To use this as a set of prayer beads, you can:
- Simply hold in your hand during prayer to give your fingers something to rub or touch while you talk to God. It’s not that there is anything magical about holding the prayer beads. But sometimes giving your hands something to do frees up your words and lets you speak more easily to God about what’s on your heart.
- Use the beads to help ground you and focus your prayers. Have you ever tried to pray when you were really upset or afraid? Sometimes it’s hard to reign your emotions in and calm down. It’s almost like you’re having a panic attack. (Maybe you are, indeed, having a panic attack.) You can hold onto the prayer beads and intentionally note how they feel–if they are rough or smooth, warm or cold. By paying attention to something here in the moment, you turn your focus away from your anxiety and back to God.
- Let each bead represent something or someone you want to pray for. For example, the first bead could stand for your relationship with God. The second bead could stand for your spouse. The next few beads could stand for each of your children. And so on.
Those are just some ideas. Really, they are just a tool to help you talk with God. Explore how He might be inviting you to use them.
More About Bead Garlands
Bead garlands have been used in a variety of ways throughout history. Some glass bead garlands were used to decorate at Christmastime, sometimes hung at the end of the branches like icicles. Longer strands were wrapped around the tree and may have included specially designed beads, like angels or birds.
Lately, people have been using wooden beads to make their garlands, often leaving them in their natural wood state or painting them in neutral colors, to decorate their homes with a sort of farmhouse/rustic feel.
However, when I crafted my Job’s Tears Bead Garland, I intentionally designed it to be used either as prayer beads or for decorating, like what we’ve seen with the larger wood bead garlands.
Using these specific beads in a bead garland still help us remember those moments when Job cried out to God. It still represents our own struggles and tears–just in a more decorative way.
How to use for decoration as a bead garland:
The Job’s Tears Bead Garlands are about 19 inches long, perfect for things like:
- wrapping around a candle or small décor piece, such as a vase
- setting it in a small bowl, draping over the side
- dangle it over the picture frame of someone you’ve lost
- laying it on an open book or a Bible
- hanging in your Christmas tree
I’m sure you can think of other ideas, too.
Whether you use the Job’s Tears Bead Garland for praying or for decorating, I pray they would remind you that you can cry out to God at any time, and He will hear you.