A mala is a strand of beads (traditionally 108) used for keeping count during meditation.
Your mala can be used for meditation only, or worn as a necklace, or wrapped around your wrist several times.
Most importantly, it is a tool focusing your awareness and concentration during your spiritual practice, meditation, prayer or reflection. Also, if you wear your mala throughout the day, it serves as a constant reminder of your intentions.
With use, particularly if you have set it with your intention, the mala becomes infused with your personal energy. The more you meditate and use your mala, the stronger the bond will become between you and your beads.