For a long time I have worried that I do most of my prayer alone, rather than as a part of a minyan. There are many reasons for that, none of which I will bother to discuss here for fear that they will be interpreted as excuses, and that they will detract from my main point.
I have always thought that prayer was required to be done in a minyan, and that Jews were only allowed to conduct their daily prayers alone only when there was no physical way of finding a group with which to daven.
So it was a physical relief to me to read differently in Rabbi Norman Solomon’s superb and highly-accessible Penguin volume, The Talmud: A Selection that the Sages felt otherwise.
However, Mishna regards the three daily services as individual rather than communal obligations; though it is virtuous to join others for communal prayer, individuals recite the daily prayers irrespective of whether they are in the synagogue or together with others.
So that is the distinction. While there is virtue in joining a minyan, the key is to pray. Needless to say, I feel a lot better now.