How to Use the Book of Common Prayer: A Guide to the Anglican Liturgy, By Samuel L. Bray and Drew Nathaniel Keane
How to Use the Book of Common Prayer
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: February 27, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0747
  • ISBN: 9781514007471

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In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the Book of Common Prayer, especially the classic 1662 version. Beloved for its language and theology, the classic Prayer Book is the fountainhead for almost all later editions of the Book of Common Prayer and remains a widely recognized standard for worship in the Anglican tradition. More than simply a collection of prayers, the Book of Common Prayer offers a transformative engagement with the Bible and a framework for our spiritual lives.

In How to Use the Book of Common Prayer, Samuel Bray and Drew Keane (editors of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer: International Edition) introduce the classic Prayer Book to newcomers. Beginning with a brief history and case for liturgical prayer, they walk through daily morning and evening prayer, baptism and Communion, the church year, and the Prayer Book’s plan for reading the Bible. This is not only an introduction to the Prayer Book—it's a guide to letting it form your faith.

"The Book of Common Prayer is a rich resource for Christians who want to be more wisely prayerful, but its structure and organization may confuse novices. Samuel Bray and Drew Nathaniel Keane have provided a great service to anyone puzzled by the BCP—and to many longtime users like me. This book is a trove of wonders and a guide full of wisdom, and every serious user of the BCP should own it."

Alan Jacobs, distinguished professor of humanities in Baylor University's Honors Program and author of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

"The recent revival of interest in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has created a need to provide modern readers with a user-friendly introduction to it. The editors of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition have assumed no prior knowledge of liturgical worship and have guided readers step by step through its principles and content. This book challenges both students and pastors to reflect carefully about our public devotion to the service of God and shows how it can be enriched by drawing on this classical English text."

Gerald Bray, research professor of divinity at Samford University

"If like me you struggle to navigate the Book of Common Prayer, help is at hand. Samuel Bray and Drew Nathaniel Keane have come to the rescue by providing us with this excellent guide."

Alistair Begg, senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio

"Samuel Bray and Drew Nathaniel Keane have succeeded extraordinarily in a task where many others have failed. This introduction to the ascetical use of the Book of Common Prayer (for it has no other purpose!) is given a very helpful historical background that never overwhelms the purpose of the prayer book and this volume: to help us to pray, and to pray rightly. No single book of prayers has shaped the prayer lives of English speakers like the 1662 BCP, and thankfully this little guide will only add more names to that list."

Matthew S. C. Olver, publisher and executive director of The Living Church Foundation

"As a user and teacher of the Book of Common Prayer on the ground in local churches, I have long hoped for a resource like this to hit the shelves. For me and my congregations, it needed to be comprehensively researched, theologically tuned to Cranmer's intentions, and then written with a punchy immediacy that wonderfully ordinary worshipers could enjoy. Thank God that resource is finally here!"

Zac Hicks, pastor of Church of the Cross in Birmingham, Alabama, and author of Worship by Faith Alone

"The Book of Common Prayer is the undisputed masterpiece of English liturgy that has stirred the souls of countless Anglicans (and others) across five centuries. This guide opens with a short history of the BCP and then expounds the significance of the components of the various services. Readers unfamiliar with the BCP will find it to be a treasure trove of public and private devotion to God, while those familiar with its use will be blessed by the careful explanation of the liturgical magnificence of Thomas Cranmer, the expert liturgist. This book will be a valuable resource for many."

Glenn N. Davies, former archbishop of Sydney

"I've been consistently blessed and also enlightened in reading and reflecting on the insights of this unique guidebook. It's much more than just a guide. Having been raised on prayer book worship, and then having led Anglican worship for fifty additional years, I am pretty well saturated with the prayers and poetry of the Book of Common Prayer, the unique book that nurtured Wesley, Whitefield, Newton, Stott, Packer, and millions more. Yet each chapter fed and refreshed me in my own walk with Christ. Reading Bray and Keane is like sitting with a wise, godly mentor who wants to open your mind and heart to new depths of worship."

John Yates, founding pastor of The Falls Church Anglican

"Samuel Bray and Drew Keane have put together a guide that will lead those unused to worship with the prayer book through the basics of the use of the Book of Common Prayer and beyond. The prayer book is presented here as a map through the Christian life in an Anglican key, with sections on daily prayer, the celebration of baptism, confirmation, and Communion, the shape of the liturgical year, the memorials of saints' days, and more. This lovely and straightforward book is remarkably precise and subtle in its theological formation of the one who gets hold of it and follows its trail into the heart of the liturgical life of the church."

Susannah Black Roberts, editor of Plough and of Breaking Ground: Charting Our Future in a Pandemic Year

"This is a wonderful resource for helping modern people understand the theory and the nitty-gritty of Anglican liturgical prayers. It is simple, clear, and easy to read but full of profound insights into the history, theology, and practicalities of The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition. I warmly commend it!"

Lee Gatiss, director of Church Society and editor of The First Book of Homilies: The Church of England's Official Sermons in Modern English

"The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition, is a beautiful book that stands well in the line of ancient, medieval, and Reformation-era breviaries. Given that evangelical Christians today are largely unfamiliar with praying the Divine Office, the BCP's riches are lost on many. This is why the Herculean work of Bray and Keane is such a blessing to the church. Now they have provided us with a brilliant handbook that teaches us both how to use the BCP and the rich theological meaning of every detail of the services. Their manual is itself a source of spiritual devotion that fills the soul while helping us to pray!"

Ian Clary, associate professor of historical theology at Colorado Christian University

"Engaging, accessible, and eminently readable, this book makes no assumption of any prior knowledge of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer—or even of liturgical worship. The authors explain clearly and concisely not only how but also why you should use Anglicanism's foundational liturgical text for both private and public devotions, as they interweave practical advice with theological rationale and historical background. Although written with the uninitiated in mind, this title's straightforward style belies a wealth of scholarship, and those who have known, loved, and used the Book of Common Prayer for years will undoubtedly also find much to learn in the pages of this book."

Prudence Dailey, former chairman of the Prayer Book Society, England

"This is a wonderfully clear and accessible guide, ably communicating the purpose of Christian liturgy, the rationale of the prayer book, and how it can be used most fruitfully. For any who are new to the Book of Common Prayer, this volume will serve to open a treasure to them; for those already familiar with it, it will deepen their understanding and appreciation."

Alastair Roberts, teaching fellow of the Davenant Institute and author of Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption Through Scripture

Read an Excerpt


A Ten-Minute History of the Prayer Book
The Ascent of Morning and Evening Prayer
Further Up and Further In
The Ascent Continues: Baptism and Confirmation
Ascending to Heaven: Holy Communion
Reading the Bible with the Prayer Book
The Prayer Book and the Christian Year
The Communion of Saints
Where Do I Go From Here?

General Index
Anglican Formularies Index


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Samuel L. Bray

Samuel L. Bray is the John N. Matthews Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame as well as a McDonald Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. He is coauthor (with John F. Hobbins) of Genesis 1–11: A New Old Translation for Readers, Scholars, and Translators.

Drew Nathaniel Keane

Drew Nathaniel Keane teaches in the Department of English at Georgia Southern University. He formerly served on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for the Episcopal Church. He is coauthor (with Samuel D. Fornecker) of a forthcoming commentary on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.