- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Prayer
- I couldn’t believe it when I saw it in the bookstore, but it had to come to this eventually. One of those familiar orange Idiot’s books— on prayer! This is a superb book, covering every aspect of prayer I can imagine. It covers how to pray, where to get help praying, how to deal with distractions, and how to pray for all sorts of circumstances. It can serve as a guide to the remaining books in this list. I really like this book!
- The Book of Common Prayer
- The Book of Common Prayer is special. It is the oldest English-language liturgy in the world. It is a literary masterpiece. It is usable by anyone, because whether you are Baptist or Catholic or anything in between, you will find that it articulates your faith in good rhetorical English. It is widely available in a large variety of sizes and bindings. But most importantly, the US version has no copyright. This is an excellent resource for pastors, because it contains, in one volume, orders for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals; resources for ordinations and for ministering to the spiritual needs of the sick and dying. It also contains general worship services and forms for personal devotions. This was John Wesley’s second most favorite book—and mine also. It’s published by Oxford University Press and Church Publishing (formerly the Church Hymnal Corporation).
- The Book of Common Worship
- This is the Presbyterian equivalent of the Book of Common Prayer. Its contents have the same scope, except there is no calendar of saints days. It is published by Westminster/John Knox Press and is approved for use in the following churches:
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
- Chalice Worship
- This is the equivalent of the Book of Common Prayer for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is unofficial and serves mainly as an optional resource for clergy. Its contents have roughly the same scope, except there is no calendar of saints days. This book reflects ecumenical trends as well as Disciples tradition. You might be interested in this book if your church has less formally structured worship than the other denominations in this list. It’s published by Chalice Press.
- Christian Prayer
- This book, which is published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company in New York, is authorized for use in Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States. It contains everything you need for morning and evening prayer in a congregational setting, and can be used for individual devotions. Unlike the other books in this list, it does not contain liturgies for baptisms, funerals, ordinations, and so forth; only daily prayers. It is much more complicated than the other books, because it does not repeat the same service every day. Instead, it has a different order of worship for each day of the week in a four-week cycle and special orders of worship for certain holy days. If you find this book a little overwhelming, you can use Shorter Christian Prayer which is designed for lay people. It has the same four-week cycle of daily prayers, but it is much smaller and much easier to use. If you are Roman Catholic and are located outside the United States, ask your parish priest or your local Catholic bookstore for an equivalent book that is authorized for use in your country.
- Evangelical Lutheran Worship
- This book is the Lutheran equivalent of the Book of Common Prayer, and its contents have the same scope, including a calendar of saints days. It also includes the complete hymnal of 654 hymns. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is in the final stages of phasing out The Lutheran Book of Worship in favor of Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Most congregations have already made the transition. It is published by Augsburg Fortress and is approved for use in the following churches:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada
Note that Lutherans still use the word “evangelical” with its original meaning of “protestant.”
- Lutheran Worship
- The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod publishes its own book, which has the same scope as the others in this list. It is published by Concordia Publishing House.
- The United Methodist Book of Worship
- John Wesley adapted the Book of Common Prayer for the needs of American Methodists, but it was too cumbersome, and so far as I can tell, no one ever used it. So American Methodists adapted the Book of Common Prayer for themselves. This is the current United Methodist book. It has a slightly larger scope than the Book of Common Prayer. This book does not contain a calendar of saints days, but it does include observances specific to the United Methodist Church. It is published by Abingdon Press.
- Other Methodists (AME, AMEZ, and CME)
- The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ), and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) each have their own prayer books that are more similar to the English Book of Common Prayer than either the United Methodist or Episcopalian books. The word “African” refers to ethnicity, not location. These denominations are headquartered in the United States.
The AMEZ and the CME are in a very slow process of merging.