'True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.'
The meeting begins not with a hymn or with any formal opening whatever, but rather by those who are met to worship settling themselves in silence for self- examination, meditation and prayer to God.
The silence at first may seem strange, but if we allow our minds to focus on God we are enabled to worship in spirit and in truth.
Sometimes the stillness may continue for a period until someone is given a message to deliver. When any are led to speak or read from the Bible, they rise and give their message from wherever they are seated.
Children and families are especially welcome and provision is made through Sunday school, in a separate room, during part of the meeting for worship.
When the meeting for worship has continued for as long as those sitting at the front think profitable, they turn to each other and shake hands. This expresses both a bond of fellowship in Christ and marks the end of the meeting.
why do we worship in this way?
'Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him.' Psalm 62.5
Friends meet for worship on the basis of silence. Our aim is to watch and wait in stillness, and to desire the love of God in our hearts. Perhaps the may well be more important than hearing the words spoken by those around us.
Christ the Head
'Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my father in heaven.' Matthew 18.19
So the Lord himself is present in such a meeting of united worship; his spiritual presence is there appearing to all. He is himself the best leader and minister of a gathering of true worshippers. Friends who desire that God himself should lead the meeting have no one person appointed to conduct the service as leader or minister.
(Information taken from 'A Quaker Meeting for Worship' published by Ulster Quarterly Meeting Home Mission Committee.)