No one knows for certain the exact origins of prayer beads, but some of the earliest known uses can be traced to Hindu prayers in India. In fact, there is a statue of a Hindu man holding prayer beads that dates back to the 3rd century before Christ. However, the Catholic Church did not start using prayer beads until around 14th century.
Prayer beads are used by a variety of religions including Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Catholics, and Muslins, and are use for prayer, meditation, and mantra.
Each religion uses a different number of beads, but they all use beads for the same purpose, which is to count the number of repetitions in their prayers, chants or devotions.
Because these beads can be fingered in an automatic manner, it allows the person to keep track of how many prayers have been said with very little conscious effort.
This is exactly the kind of mindless vain prayers that our Messiah warned us against when He said,
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7
Prayer beads are the epitome of “vain repetition”. With this type of prayer, the focus is not so much on what you say, but rather how many times you say it. The Bible discourages this type of prayer, and Christians should have nothing to do with this type of pagan practice.
Likewise, prayers to Mary and the Saints are always done in vain, because they are dead and waiting in their graves for the resurrection.
We were instructed to direct our prayers to our Father in Heaven, not to Mary or the Saints.
Don’t let your prayers be in vain. Speak to your Heavenly Father from the heart, and get to know Him through mindful prayer and contemplation, not mindless repetitions.