Some people understand God as a being who is outside of them. Some Quakers, but not all, would see God in this way. Other Quakers understand the Spirit as being as much inside as outside them - something which connects to everyone, and to the wisdom of the universe.

Whatever their understanding of the divine, when Quakers take time for silent worship, they are seeking guidance. They may give thanks, feel awe, worship God, pray, be humble and reduce their own ego. They may give praise, feel reverent and reach for connection with others.

Quakers worship mainly in silence - expecting that we will hear and gain guidance that we need. It might come in a flash. It might be just one’s own reflecting. It might come through words offered by someone who speaks from the silence. It might be that the words have been uncomfortable, but have helped the hearer sort something out.

A Meeting for Worship usually lasts an hour, sitting in a circle. The silence may be broken by spoken (or sung) ministry from anyone. There is a period of silence between spoken ministry, to give time to ponder what has been said. The Meeting closes with shaking hands. There is no Order of Service, no pastor. There are books of wisdom on the central table - the Bible, some Quaker books, old and modern.

Following the Meeting is community time, when Friends tell of their activities and chat with each other over a cuppa.

Some find it takes time to become centred into the worship. Some report a great peace. Some feel challenged. Some report a sense of “coming home”. Some take a long time to get into it. It’s a heart thing as much as a head thing.

Why do Quakers need to get together to do this? It sounds a lot like meditation or reflection, or a mindfulness activity. When one sits with other people their presence is supportive. You know that others are also seeking. You may remember a comment or smile you received earlier, and it may help your contemplation or cheer your soul.