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.
Ancient sources reveal that a tradition of daily prayer at stated hours developed quite early in the history of the church. The practice of assembling for these times of daily prayer was derived in part from Jewish custom and is mentioned in the New Testament. Christian daily prayer evolved into two forms: monastic prayer, practiced by members of separated communities (originally of laypeople), and cathedral prayer, for which members of the local congregations would assemble with their bishop and other leaders. Daily prayer included the recitation of psalms and hymns, with congregational responses. Some elements in historic Christian liturgies seem to have originated in the practice of daily prayer.