The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of praying at mealtimes and at set hours of the day. The Didachē, a primitive Christian manual of instruction, prescribes prayer three times a day; Clement of Alexandria and Origen in the third century refer to a similar custom in Egypt, as well as to prayer in the night. At the same period in North Africa, however, Tertullian and Cyprian describe a more extensive pattern of daily prayer.
It is tempting to assume that the worship practices of the earliest churches are reflected in the more developed liturgical traditions that emerged in the fourth century. A resulting view has been that Christian celebration has exhibited essentially the same shape since the apostolic period. This entry challenges that assumption and suggests that the most ancient forms of Christian worship were not uniform but quite diverse.