A lot of people have asked me "whats a quaker meeting like?" Well, to start off, we walk into the room of worship, which is usually very bare. You probably won't see any pictures on the wall as the Quakers live a simple life. Then you quietly take a seat on a bench. Don't worry, you will not be seating in any ones seat, no seats are reserved.
People continuing to come in and the benches start to fill and the meeting starts too fill with people. No one says a word.
This type of meeting, in which I go to, is an "unprogrammed" Quaker meeting. There are no hymns, no sermons, no set prayers, no responsive reading, no ceremonies, no rituals and no designated ministers. Each person brings their own thoughts, insights and prayers, while being part of the community of seekers.
Sometimes the silence is broken when someone feels the need to offer a message, it is usually brief, easy to understand, and always spiritual in nature. People have even told stories, sung a song, or read a passage from the bible. Whatever you feel are called to say.
After someone finishes their 'vocal ministry', there is a silence again until someone has the 'call' to add to the vocal ministry. The messages may keep to the theme of the earlier message or it may be entirely a different subject. No message is planned or rehearsed, but arises spontaneously from the meeting.
The meeting usually lasts an hour and at the end, a member who is appointed, stands up and greets the meeting and then everyone shakes hands with everyone nearby. The hand shaking passes from person to person and then the meeting is over. Then the appointed person asks if there are any new comers to introduce themselves so that we can welcome you.
Just too make this clear, this is how my meeting or worship is, if you were to ask a number of friends on what happens at their meeting, you may get different answers. But most would agree that a Meeting of Worship is a period of intense listening, listening to others, listening to that small inner voice in each of us, listening to whatever ways God speaks to you.