Anglican prayer beads, also known as the Anglican rosary or Christian prayer beads, are a loop of strung beads which Anglicans, as well as Christians of other denominations, use to order their prayer. This particular way of using prayer beads was developed in the mid-1980s by Episcopalians in the United States participating in a study group dealing with methods of prayer. The beads have since been adopted or adapted by Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups, thus giving rise to the term "Christian prayer beads"
Anglican prayer bead sets consist of thirty-three beads divided into groups. There are four groups consisting of seven beads with additional separate and larger beads separating the groups. The number thirty-three signifies the number of years that Christ lived on the Earth, while the number seven signifies wholeness or completion in the faith, the days of creation, and the seasons of the Church year
The groupings are called "weeks," in contrast to the Dominican rosary which uses five groups of ten beads called "decades." The beads between are usually larger than the "weeks" beads are called "cruciform" beads. When the loop of beads is opened into a circular shape, these particular beads form the points of a cross within the circle of the set, hence the term "cruciform." Next after the cross on Anglican prayer bead sets is a single bead termed the "invitatory" bead, giving the total of thirty-three. The beads used are made of a variety of materials, such as precious stones, wood, colored glass, or even dried and painted seeds. Anglican prayer bead sets are made with a variety of crosses or, occasionally, crucifixes. The Celtic cross and the San Damiano cross are two which are often used.
Unlike the Dominican rosary used by Roman and Anglo Catholics, which focuses on the seminal events in the life ofChristand asks theVirgin Maryto pray for their intentions, Anglican prayer beads are most often used as a tactile aid to prayer and as a counting device. The standard Anglican set consists of the following pattern, starting with thecross, followed by the Invitatory Bead, and subsequently, the firstCruciformbead, moving to the right, through the first set of seven beads to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle. He or she may conclude by saying theLord's prayeron the invitatory bead and/or a final prayer on the cross as in the examples below. The entire circle may be done thrice, which signifies theHoly Trinity