The prayer rope (chotki or Pater Noster Beads) originated in the monastic world as a tool that could be used in the prayer rule of male and female monks. It was simply a method to keep track of the number of prayers asking for the Lord’s Mercy that the spiritual elder had given to his or her spiritual child as an obedience to perform each day. The purpose of this monastic exercise was to train the spiritual child’s mind to pray without ceasing in response to the commandment given by the Apostle Paul which is further supported in the New Testament (Orthodox Study Bible): Matthew 9:27, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:15, Matthew 20:30, Matthew 20:31, Mark 10:47, Mark 10:48, Luke 16:24, Luke 17:13, Luke 18:38, Luke 18:39, Romans 9:15, Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, 1Corinthians 7:25, Philippians 2:27, 1Peter 2:10. The New Testament writings, as a fulfillment of the Old Testament, have their foundation in the Old Testament scripture where petitioning the Lord to have mercy on a person or group of people occurs repeatedly through scripture.
In Celtic Orthodoxy the training of the mind was the important reason for the Pater Noster Beads. The daily prayer would resonate in their mind and heart, even when asleep so as to pray without ceasing.
From the earliest days of the church the common practice was to pray the “Our Father” repeatedly. Many could not read and so could not pray the Psalms as did many of the Monks. In Celtic Orthodoxy the Chotki is more often called the Pater Noster Beads.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, eventually the practice of “praying the beads” as it was called found favor with the laity as well. People would pray the Our Father 150 times a day using the Pater Noster Beads (Chotki) to guide them and help keep track of the prayers. The lay people who wanted to lead a life that would
bring them closer to God in the hope of salvation for their souls prayed what became known as the PaterNoster Psalter. The Prayer Rope can be cloth, metal or wood or even plastic. Today most are wood.
The Pater Noster Psalter is the precursor to the modern day Marian Rosary that became popular in the Roman Catholic Church as a prayer rule for their Roman Catholic faithful after the Great Schism between the Church of the East and the Church of the West in 1054 AD., when the Roman Catholic Church disrupted the peace and unity of the church.
Although many materials are used to tie a prayer rope in recent times – elastic rope, waxed rope, synthetic yarns, wood etc., it was and still is tied of Lamb’s wool yarn by tradition to remind the penitent that Jesus
is the Lamb of God The Prayer Rope was plain and not decorated to reflect the contrition of the person and to be humble before the Lord in their petition for mercy. In the Middle Ages some Pater Noster Beads became very much decorated with precious and semi-precious stones. Making the Pater Noster Beads became a cottage industry around the world, especially in Germany.