A prayer book is a book containing prayers and perhaps devotional readings, for private or communal use, or in some cases, outlining the liturgy of religious services. Books containing mainly orders of religious services, or readings for them are termed "service books" or "liturgical books", and are thus not prayer-books in the strictest sense, but the term is often used very loosely. Breviaries are prayer books used in many Christian denominations by believers to pray at fixed prayer times the canonical hours seven times a day, a practice that has its roots in Psalm 118:164. Throughout the year, and especially during certain seasons of the Christian liturgical kalendar such as Advent and Lent, many Christians pray a daily devotional, which contains a prayer for each day along with a reflection on a passage from the Christian Bible. A religion's scriptures might also be considered prayer books as well.
The following are among the many books to which the term may loosely refer in various churches or religions, although in strict usage a prayer book is likely to mean a miscellaneous book of prayers as opposed to the standard service books as listed in the last group below:
Actual prayer books:
- Daily Watchwords (Moravian Christian)
- Raccolta (Catholic Christian)
- Saint Augustine's Prayer Book (Anglican Christian)
- Siddur (Jewish)
- Vatican Croatian Prayer Book (Catholic Christian)
- Agpeya (Coptic Orthodox Christianity)
- Anglican Breviary (Anglican Christianity)
- For All the Saints (Lutheran Christianity)
- Roman Breviary (Roman Catholic Christianity)
- Shehimo (Indian Orthodox Christianity)
- Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book (Mennonite Christianity)
- The Brotherhood Prayer Book (Lutheran Christianity)
Service & liturgical books:
- Book of Common Prayer (BCP), first published in 1549 for the Church of England and has considerable literary influence in the English language
- Breviary or Missal, in Roman Catholicism
- Agenda (liturgy), in Lutheranism
- Common Worship, in Anglicanism
- Alternative Service Book (adopted in 1980), in the Church of England
- Directory of Public Worship, adopted in certain areas of the Church of England in the 17th century
- Book of Hours in Roman Catholicism, many of which have fine examples of Medieval art
- Mary Cecil, 2nd Baroness Amherst of Hackney (1906). A Sketch of Egyptian History from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Methuen. p. 399.
Prayers 7 times a day are enjoined, and the most strict among the Copts recite one of more of the Psalms of David each time they pray. They always wash their hands and faces before devotions, and turn to the East.
- Shehimo: Book of Common Prayer. Diocese of South-West America of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. 2016. p. 5.
We pray standing upright while facing East as we collect our thoughts on God.
- "Prayers of the Church". Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
- Hollinger-Janzen, Lynda (26 March 2008). "Anabaptist prayer book globally embraced". Mennonite Mission Network. Retrieved 5 August 2020.