“We pray at God’s time not ours.”
Little did I know how much that phrase would forever change the way I think about prayer.
Abdul was a refugee from Iraq. I was about to begin an afternoon Beginner English class in Phoenix when he stopped in to ask about our class schedule. After introductions he told us he had just arrived three weeks ago and his wife needed some English lessons. He quickly thanked me for the information as he backed away, explaining that he was on his way to pray. Eyes beaming with a joyful smile, I can still see him saying, “we pray at God’s time not ours.”
This was not the first time I had witnessed the beauty of devotion. Over the years I have had opportunities to travel to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Jerusalem and India. These were the places I first noticed very open and diverse displays of religious devotion. As foreign as all differences seem at first, I discovered that each person I asked was ultimately showing devotion to an Ineffable Creator.
What is Devotion?
Devotion by most definitions can also mean consecration or loyalty. It’s also how we express love. Whether it be our religious activities, a favorite sports team, T.V. shows, work, friends, spouses and children. It shows when we make someone or something a priority. It’s what we devote our time, money and energy to, because we have a desire to know more, including important dates and times.
With this in mind, I began to wonder if the Bible said anything about set dates and times?
To Pray Without Ceasing or To Pray Perpetually at Set Times?
As the apostle Paul teaches the Thessalonians in his first letter, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to “pray without ceasing.” I questioned how this was humanly possible, but when I asked a religious expert I was told that God’s Spirit was in us praying continually. So I’d always prayed at my convenience, mostly in the car, before I ate, sometimes when I went to bed, if I wasn’t too tired. Admittedly, prayer was never my priority.
When we begin searching the original Scriptures ourselves, transformation begins.
Why did Daniel Pray Three Times a Day?
Most of us remember Daniel from the story of Daniel and the lions den. Bur why had I never questioned that he prayed morning, noon and night? Daniel 6:10. These prayer times were so important to him that he chose death over missing one. Being eaten alive by lions even!!
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Daniel continued bowing at his usual prayer times, so he was thrown into the lion’s den, but YHVH closed the mouths of the lions. King Darius was so amazed, he and his kingdom also began to serve YHVH.
To Worship, (the Hebrew word Shachah), means Physically Bowing!
If Daniel bowed when he prayed why don’t we? When and why did bowing get Westernized right out of prayer?
Who changed, us or YHVH’s instructions? Isaiah 40:8
From the first book of the Bible to the last, I found bowing at prayer times.
In my search of 1st century writings I found Acts 10:2, 3 “… and prayed continually to God, about the ninth hour.” Is it continually or at the prayer time?
“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, giving generously to the people, and prayed “continually” to God. 3 About the ninth hour (3:PM) of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, ‘Cornelius.’ 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your giving have ascended as a memorial before God.’
Skipping down to verse 9, Peter goes up to the housetop to pray at the sixth hour, noon!
“9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.“
“Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon, (the ninth hour).” Acts 3:1
In light of these 1st Century prayer times, I learned “praying continually,” can also be translated perpetually, from one prayer time to the next.
*The original Hebrew word is Olam can be translated perpetual, from one point to the next, eternal and continual.
This is why we are instructed to test everything to the original, established, Scripture; Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 111:8; Psalm 119:152; Psalm 119:160; Psalm 119:89 1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Mark 13:5; Acts 17:11.
King David writes in Psalm 119:164 “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous instruction.” If you count from 6:AM, 9:AM, 12:PM, 3:Pm, 6:PM, 9:PM, 12:AM you get seven times!
Midnight prayers are no secret: Psalm 119:62; Acts 16:25 ; Mark 13:35; Matthew 24:42; Luke 11:5.
And in between prayer times we are to stay alert, stay awake, keep watch, so you can pray at all times, Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 5:8; Mark 13:33; Matthew 24:42; 1 Peter 4:7; Colossians 4:2; Luke 21:36; Revelation 16:15.
Prayer Times Correlate with the Times of Y’shua’s Affliction, John 19:13-15
At the third hour He was crucified, at the sixth hour there was darkness that lasted until the ninth hour when He said “it is finished.”
The sixth hour is Noon; Matthew 27:44-46, (darkness from Noon-3:PM) ; Mark 15:32-34, (darkness from Noon- 3:PM) ; Luke 23:43-45, (darkness from Noon-3:PM) ; Acts 10:8-10 ; Matthew 20:4; parable of the vineyard workers called at the sixth hour.
The ninth hour is 3:PM; Matthew 27:44-46 ; Mark 15:32-34 ; Luke 23:43-45 ; Acts 3:1-3, the time of afternoon prayer ; Acts 10:2-4, (Cornelius praying) ; Acts 10:29-31, (Cornelius explaining his prayer time to Peter) ; Matthew 20:4-6 ; (see the parable of the vineyard workers called at these same hours).
Thanks to the beauty of that phrase that stirred me right out of my cultural mind-set and into checking the original Scriptures. The Original Scriptures that testify about Y’shua, John 5:39.
Search it out for Yourself
The One Who made us knows how often we need spiritual refreshing. Now my prayers in the car, before meals and in-between my prayer times are the icing, not the cake.
The cake is making YHVH’s prayer times a priority!