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Prayer was regarded as an essential arm of the State and even as a method of 'thought control' in early modern Britain. In the 17th Century period covered by this study, common prayer dominated everyday lives at a national level - in communities and congregations - as well as privately in households. At a time when Britain was struggling to come to terms with the political and social turbulence triggered by the violence of the Civil War, unease over the Commonwealth and uncertainties of the Restoration, prayer represented the search for pattern, order and purpose in and between these different layers of society. Ginn argues that the importance of prayer as a stabilizing force during these times of instability cannot be underestimated; it fostered a sense of national identity, an integrating principle at a vulnerable time, putting the social order in a greater context under a sovereign God.
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