How to Pray the Chotki

Some of you may remember a while back, I wrote a post on how to pray the rosary: here. However, today I want to give my two cents on how to pray the chotki.

Oh you don’t know what a chotki is? Well let me try to help you out there!

History

It is a very ancient form of prayer that predates the rosary dating back to at least the 4th century. Monks of old said the prayer all day long in this manner…

“Lord, make haste to help me. Lord make speed to save me.”

The prayer rope, (Chotki/ Komboskini), consists of 25, 33, 50, 100 or 103 beads or knots and is used to focus one’s thoughts on the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart”.  It said to have been inspired  by the words of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, ‘Pray without ceasing.”

The Legend

A very very long time ago there was a monk that was amongst the first to wander into the desert to spread the word of the Lord. This monk came up with the idea to use a rope to count his prayers. For every prayer he recited he made a knot.

Everything was just fine until one day during his prayer he got a vision of the Devil, which threw the monk out of concentration. The monk was surprised to see that the knots he made were mysteriously untied. The monk tried to pray again, but every time he got the same vision with the same result. But the brave monk was not to give up so easily. He kept on trying, but every passing day it got worse, the poor monk got very exhausted and it seemed the Devil would have his victory.

Thankfully Archangel Gabriel came to the rescue. Gabriel appeared in the monks dreams and showed him how to tie a special knot that vanquishes the Devil. The very next day the monk started to pray and to tie the special knot that consist of 7 small interlocking crosses (the knots that compose the chotki). The Devil appeared again, but when he tried to untie the knots the special bond of the knots repelled him back to hell. This brave humble monk stood his ground and kept on going even in his darkest hours. Ultimately claiming victory over evil. Who was this legendary monk. He was Saint Pachomius the Great.

 

How to Pray the Chotki

The Chotki is a very simple prayer rope. Early Christians made several variations of this prayer, which became known as the Jesus Prayer. It has come down to us in three forms:

  • Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
  • Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on me.

The Jesus Prayer is said on each and every bead. However, for special intentions, you substitute the name of another who is ill or in need of special prayers.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on … (the intention)

g1It is also a nice practice to add a prayer to the Mother of God while praying. (i.e., Through the Prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save us; Mother of God, intercede for us.)

The concept is to make it so that your corporeal and your spiritual are so intertwined that your breathe becomes a pray in itself. When you pray the chotki inhale the first part and exhale the next (or vice versa). The prayer will become automatic, to the point that whenever you are in silence you will just find yourself in prayer via the your natural breathing. You will begin to pray without ceasing, and trust me I have been at the point on and off in my life and it is amazing.

When this prayer finally becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help.  This can sometimes even grant the gift of tears for repentance of your sins or tears of joy due to the love of God. Either way some chotki’s have tassels on the ends of them, so you can wipe away these tears or repentance or joy.

Not a Substitute for the Rosary

The chotki is not a substitute for the rosary, and the rosary for a replacement for the chotki. Both are fantasticmethods of gaining spirituality and favor with our God, whom we love and want nothing more than to please.

Christ died to save us from eternal damnation. He started own Church, one Catholic Church that has two lungs. Blessed Pope John Paul II said, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, “The Church must breathe with both Lungs.” As a result, I strongly urge you to buy both if you possibly can. We need devotion to our Lady, but we must also completely transform ourselves into never ending praying beasts! Combine the two and you have sainthood. If you want to find a place to buy a chotki send Phillip an email at: phillip.rolfes@gmail.com (on average a 30 bead chotki is $20).

 

 

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