Hours of Prayer
Biblical Times of Memorial
and John went together into the temple at the hour of prayer."
Perhaps you have never considered it. There are
specific hours of the day ordained of God which can be particularly
meaningful to the Christian's prayer life. Just as surely as God
has ordained a memorial day of the week for corporate worship (together
with annual days of celebration), He also ordained special hours
of the day for prayer to bring particular honor to Himself. The
three Biblical memorial hours of prayer are specifically the third
hour, the sixth hour and the ninth hour of the day, or 9:00 A.M.,
12 Noon and 3:00 P.M. These were important prayer disciplines faithfully
observed by the Old Testament saints, the New Testament Church and
by our Lord Jesus Christ. The hours of Prayer" were continually
honored because they were divinely appointed. The practice of observing
them is being restored to the prayer system of the Body of Christ.
The apostles of Jesus, knowing the vital role that prayer plays
in the believer's spiritual life, were willing students requesting
of Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray". Since we are living
in the TIME OF RESTORATION and renewal of the Church,
the practice of honoring the Biblical "Hours of Prayer"
can be another enriching element of restoration in the Body of Christ
to bring new life. These memorial hours of prayer are elements of
perfected worship for reasons that we shall explore.
Needless to say, prayer is an essential element to the God-man
relationship. For this reason God said that His house (the Church)
"shall be called a House of Prayer" (Isaiah 56:7). Prayer
is more important than faith. Let's qualify that by saying that
they are interdependent. However, the rewards of faith are contingent
upon our expressions of it through verbal petition or request. Jesus
put it much more succinctly by saying "Ask and ye
shall receive". Over the years we have been inundated with
"How-To" books on Christian living. Books on prayer have
been no exception. Indeed there have been some great books written
about the meaning of prayer, proper methods, purpose and many critiques
on "The Lord's Prayer". However the importance of, nor
the Biblical concept of having daily "Hours of Prayer"
have yet been adequately addressed. It is one of those references
in the scripture that we often "read over" without really
reading. Let us examine it.
These specific hours of prayer are an integral part of "God's
Divine Prayer System". Considering our modern day propensity
for "random-religion" or extemporaneous spirituality,
cloaked with such pious phrases as "when I feel inspired",
some tend to shy away from anything that smacks of discipline, order
and regulation fearing the ravages of ritualism and / or legalism.
While it is true that we should "pray without ceasing",
the fact is that most of us do not. God knows the human spirit and
its intrinsic need for discipline. It is this condition that accounts
for His need to introduce some systematic or regulating elements
into the worship order and prayer life of His people. The spiritual
life is very similar to the natural life, in that if it is not given
some guidance and programming it will soon fall into negligence
- Daniel prayed three times a day. -
In the Old Testament era the hours of prayer were also known as
the hours of "oblation" or sacrifice (Daniel 9:21, II
Kings 16:15). It is recorded that the prophet Daniel prayed three
times a day (Daniel 6:10). Daniel did not pray three times
a day just because he felt strangely "inspired" to do
it. He prayed three times a day because it was part of his Godly
Judaic heritage. It was a meaningful component of his daily prayer
system. Although this prayer practice was established in the Old
Testament, as it rightly should be (Hebrews 10:1), it is more often
mentioned in the New Testament. These hours of sacrifice, or Hours
of Prayer (particularly the third and ninth hours) were prophetic
in nature. Jesus our supreme sacrifice was crucified in the third
hour of the day (Mark 15:25). His witness of "darkness at noon
day" occurred in the sixth hour (Mark 15:33-34; Matthew 27:45).
Finally at the time of the evening oblation being the ninth hour
Jesus gave up the ghost and died for the sins of the world (Luke
23:44-46). These hours of prayer are "Memorials" of Him
who made it possible for you and me to enter the Holiest of Holies
(spiritually for ourselves) coming boldly before the throne of God
in prayer, making our petitions known (Hebrews 10:19). What greater
motive would the Church need for recognizing and giving at least
occasional honor to these Hours of Prayer than bringing honor to
The New Testament is filled with glorious accounts of how God has
honored these special hours by responding to prayer in a significant
way. Here are some examples: It was the third hour on the
memorial day of Pentecost, when the one hundred and twenty disciples
were in the upper room praying for the promise of the Father when
cloven tongues of fire sat upon each of them and they were all filled
with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3, 15). Not only was it the prophetic
day (Pentecost) but also the prophetic hour.
The New Testament Church customarily went to the temple at the
hours of prayer. Evidence of this is revealed in the account of
a miraculous event which occurred at a particular time when two
of the disciples of Jesus were entering the temple shortly after
the day of Pentecost: "Now Peter and John went up together
into the temple at the HOUR OF PRAYER, being the ninth hour"
(Acts 3:1). On this occasion a lame man was gloriously healed when
the apostle Peter took him by the hand and said, "Silver and
gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of
Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk...and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength" (Acts 3:6-7). They
were not at the temple by happenstance nor randomly entering the
temple but very deliberately doing so at the Hour of Prayer.
Not to be overlooked is the story of the apostle Peter and Cornelius
of Caesarea (Acts 10). In effect, it is a reenactment of the Day
of Pentecost. The only major difference is that it was happening
to a body of Gentiles on this occasion rather than a body of Jews.
God began to set the stage for a dispensational change. The thrust
of the Gospel from this point on, would be focused on the Gentile
nations. The unique circumstances of this story were divinely orchestrated.
Cornelius, though a soldier in the Roman army, was a devout man
who "prayed to God alway" and was very liberal in his
alms giving. He was in prayer about the ninth hour when
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a vision and instructed
him to "send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname
is Peter". The next day as Cornelius' servants came to Joppa,
Peter was also having a spiritual experience. "Peter went up
upon the house top to pray about the sixth hour."
Suddenly he fell into a trance and saw a vision of a great sheet
let down from heaven full of all kinds of unclean beasts. God proceeded
to instruct Peter to accept these Gentiles because they had now
been cleansed. It was simply an object lesson to prepare Peter for
ministry to a people (Gentiles) whom he considered unacceptable
for the kingdom of God. His obedience to God resulted in a great
outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the house (family) of Cornelius
and consequently the Gentile nations. It is obvious that observing
the memorial Hours of Prayer was a vital part of the spiritual value
system of both of these great men of God.
- Offerings and Prayer -
Another important dimension of prayer life which is coupled with
Hours of Prayer relates to our "gifts" or offerings. Jesus
spoke of this when instructing the disciples about acceptable prayer
practices: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar,
and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
LEAVE THERE THY GIFT before the altar, and go thy way; first be
reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift"
Prayer and offerings go hand in hand. Gifts should be offered at
the times of prayer. In biblical times one did not come to the House
of God to pray without an offering, even if it were only "a
widow's mite", especially at the hours of prayer. It could
and should be these daily prayer offerings that accumulate
during the week which are then brought to the church to be given
at weekend worship time. Our church offerings should not be offerings
of the "discovery" nature which we happen to find in our
pockets or purse after we arrive. Bring a deliberate
offering to the House of God.
- Secret Closet -
Finally, Jesus being a Jew and well acquainted with this Biblical
prayer system, no doubt had the Hours of Prayer in mind when He
taught His disciples the value of "secret closet" prayer.
Public demonstrations of observing the Hours of Prayer "to
be seen of men" is not recommended, although that would be
better than none at all (if void of self pride). Jesus said, "But
thou, when thou prayest. enter into thy closet, and when thou hast
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father
which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).
Every believer should have a place set aside. Whether it be in our
home, on a mountain, or elsewhere, it is good to have a designated
place to observe these Hours of Prayer. One's home is particularly
important in this regard. In their plans to build a new home some
Christians are now including a specially designed room for use as
a prayer chapel. It is a "sound proof" room where full
disclosure can be made to God and uninhibited praise can be offered.
When you see people being openly blessed of God, you can be reasonably
assured that there has been some activity in the secret prayer closet.
With a designated prayer place, one tends to be more readily reminded
and activated to a systematic prayer order in his life.
- Children of Darkness Often Wiser -
The Mohammedans customarily pray five times a day. The first prayer
is performed in the morning before sunrise, the second just after
noon, the third in the late afternoon, the fourth immediately after
sunset and the fifth before retiring to bed. In strict doctrine,
the five daily prayers cannot be waived even for the sick. They
perform these prayers no matter what their situation or circumstance.
These committed people pray five times a day whether they are in
an airplane, a subway, an office building, in the grocery store
or out on the street. By and large, we in the Christian community
are not as diligent. That is a statistical fact. Perhaps the words
of Jesus are applicable when He stated, ". . .for the children
of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of
light" (Luke 16:8). The point is that God also has a prayer
schedule worthy of honor and worthy of being incorporated into our
religious activities. The Mohammedan bible, called the Koran, which
is little more than a corruption of the Holy Bible, requires that
they pray only three times a day. Through the passing of
time however, the Moslems have added two extra hours to the biblical
mandate but the Christian community has apparently deleted them
altogether. We have resorted to self-devised prayer schedules to
fit our particular situations. Perhaps this is due in part to our
not being aware of these biblical truths concerning the Hours of
Prayer. Many Christians have no standardized prayer system. In truth,
we have been given a biblical system but it has been neglected.
- Conclusions -
Prayer is meaningful at any hour of the day but there is added
significance when it is performed at the divinely appointed hours.
The more divine order that we can restore to the Body of Christ,
the more favor of God we shall receive. The observance of these
Hours of Prayer is not a matter of salvation, but rather a matter
of order in the House of Prayer (the Church) Isaiah 56:7.
When the Church puts all of these components of the Biblical prayer
system in place. it will see more of the blessings and approval
of God. Try it. Even if you do get tossed into a den of
lions for praying three times a day, you'll be in good prayer company
and on the side of victory with Daniel the prophet.
Note: This treatise is written on the following premise:
a) The Jewish "day" comprised 24 hours and was divided
into 12 hour periods called night and day, respectively (John 11:9).
b) The first hour of "darkness" began at 6 P.M. and ended
at 7 P.M. (of the first 12 hour period).
c) Correspondingly, the first hour of "daylight" (of the
second 12 hour period) began at 6 A.M. and ended at 7 A.M.
Reference Unger's Bible Dictionary pages 1098-1099.
Logically, this defines "Hours of Prayer" specifically
3rd Hour - 8 A.M. to 9 A.M.
6th Hour - 11 A.M. to 12 Noon
9th Hour - 2 P.M. to 3 P.M.