It is easy to forget, in a site on prayer exercises, the value that has been found, and undoubtedly still exists, in the use of orders of service. After all, many people's first experience of prayer is in the context of an order of service in a church.
The practice of saying prayers at particular hours of the day or night was general among the Jews, and seems to have been taken over by the early Christians (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 10:9-30; 16:25). In time there developed a pattern of eight times of prayer (or offices) in monastic use and the arrangement was worked out in some detail by St Benedict. At the Reformation the Church of England reshaped the pattern to give the two offices of Morning and Evening Prayer (Matins and Evensong).
Not all Christians find set prayers helpful, but for others they can offer a shape to a day or a week, becoming a 'comfortable peg' that consecrates time.
Most services (or offices) are readily adaptable for use by a small group meeting in someone's home. The exercises offered in this chapter are no more than a taste of the possibilities that are available. The first encourages the group to produce
an order to service of its own. The second allows people to experience the different flavour of modern compared to traditional language, while the third looks at a familiar service in a rather different way.