book of common prayer?
“The Book of Common Prayer is saturated with the Bible, organizing and orchestrating the Scriptures for worship. It leads the Church to pray in one voice with order, beauty, deep devotion, and great dignity.”
— From To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism
All churches, no matter what denomination, use some form of worship, some kind of liturgy. It may be written or unwritten, but it is there. This is something every church has to wrestle with. Since the Bible does not give us one single prescribed service order for Christian worship, we have to discern biblical principles with which to engage with God in worship.
For New Creation (and Anglican Christians everywhere), the Prayer Book is our way of doing that. Simply put, the Prayer Book is “the Bible arranged for worship.” It is a way of putting the whole life of the Christian into praise and worship. Our worship enfolds the entire life of the Christian into the worship of God, dealing with everything from birth to death, weddings and ordinations, baptism and holy communion, and daily prayer. It is a rich and time honored source of Christian spirituality, reflecting historical patterns of Christian worship, and teaching the faith we profess. You have probably memorized some of the English phrases of the Prayer Book without even knowing it (for instance, the vows used in the service of Holy Matrimony)! The below Collect for Purity, used at the beginning of the Holy Communion service, is a great example of the beauty of the Prayer Book. It’s ancient, simple, and reverent:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
One of the wonderful things about liturgical worship (i.e. worship that uses a historical order or pattern) is that it is intensely participatory. There are no spectators in our worship. As J.I. Packer has written, “liturgies must be congregational, simple, edifying, unifying and express the Gospel.” There is something for everyone to do (including the kids!) in this kind of service. Whether it be leading the prayers of the people, praying for others, readings the Scriptures, singing together, making the sign of the cross, playing an instrument, preparing the sanctuary, or simply saying “Amen,” the whole body of Christ is involved in our worship.
The Anglican Church in North America is currently in the process of producing new rites for worship, including Morning and Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination. Working texts are available at anglicanchurch.net. Want to go deeper? Check out “Guiding Principles for Christian Worship,” produced by ACNA’s Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force.
Also, check out Justin’s article Prayer Vs Prayer, which is about liturgical prayer and “original” prayers. Our friend and co-laborer Karen Burger has also written a wonderful article called “Teach Me to Pray: The Sincerity of the Written Word.”