If there's one thing I've learned about Anglicans, it's that they won't mind us looking around at their Book of Common Prayer (hereafter referred to as the BCP). For some history on this prayer book, check out this article. You can even find it online here. For some back story on my experience thus far with this book, you might find this post helpful. Other traditions use books that include prayers; known by other names like worship books, hymnals, psalters and missals. But for the curious, like me, I'm going to walk through parts of the BCP. Anglicans and Episcopalians use this book during corporate worship and for times of worship and prayer at home.
My own church will likely never use the BCP in its weekly liturgy (order of service) but it's still a wonderful resource for a spiritual practice at home. It can be used multiples times each day and for particular seasons of the church calendar as well. I'm hopeful my short explanation here will remove some of the intimidation you might encounter when thumbing through this book.
I'm using the 1979 BCP published in 2008, which I purchased in 2010 and started using regular in 2018. The pages I reference here apply to that edition.
DEVOTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS & FAMILIES
starts on page 136
I started here with the BCP because it didn't have as much call and response as other portions of the book (remember much of this book is used in corporate worship but it doesn't have to be). There are four prayers you can say throughout each day, each of which includes the reading of a Psalm.
Pages 326, 337
These are included in a few spots, including the rites of The Holy Eucharist (liturgy used during a service that includes Communion), but spend some time reflecting on the Nicene Creed and Apostles' Creed. They are common to many Christians and many of us believe they offer the common ground needed to be a more united Church.
It's referenced as a historical document but in my ecumenical work, I was directed to The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral 1886, 1888. I recite this initiative on a regular basis. It's powerful and beautiful. I mean every word. Starts on page 876.
Starts on pages 319, 447
You've heard of Christians confessing their sin corporately or privately to a priest. I love the prayers said during both of these times. Like many of you I misunderstood Confession for a long time. It's not required but it's helpful. I've come to appreciate saying these prayers out loud, even if I only do it on my own at home.
Starts on page 585
This section lists a number of psalms that can be sung, read or prayed. It's an easy resource that aids in worship. Deep breath.
So many beautiful prayers. This is lacking in our Evangelical hymnals. The music is there but these prayers are so beautiful. Do we have to pray formally? NO. There's a rich benefit to it though. When I pray to God using these prayers, I feel drawn into a much larger body of believers who have prayed this way before me, pray this way even now, and will pray this way for all eternity. Also, these prayers often give me words when mine fail me. Here are a few to check out:
Prayers for a variety of topics starts on page 810.
The Prayer of Humble Access (prayed prior to receiving Communion) page 337.
The Magnificat (Mary's prayer) page 65.
Gloria in excelsis page 52.
A Prayer of St. Chrysostom page 59.
There's much more to be found in the BCP. A calendar lists various days to be observed on the church calendar. A listing of the Scripture readings on various Sundays throughout the year. Prayers for special occasions in a church's life. Do write back and tell me, what have you discovered in your own exploration?