The Three Fold Daily Prayers
From looking at Scripture, many Protestant Monks and believers believe that the Apostles and Early Christians would pray at certain times, three times daily.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.Acts 2:41-42
This is the ESV translation and in the original Greek it also says “...and the prayers.”
What does this phrase, “the prayers” refer to? There is really only one prayer that Christians were given to pray, the Lord’s Prayer.
Could it refer to the Psalms? (these are prayers prayed by the Apostles and early Christians, though they are referred to elsewhere in the New Testament simply as the Psalms). Or does it refer to the three times of prayer that is believed the Apostles and early Christians observed?
It is believed the three daily prayer-times of the Apostles in the New Testament, consisted of praying first the Lord’s Prayer at the three daily times of 9 am, noon, and 3 pm; which might be followed according to individual choice with Psalms, Hymns, spiritual songs, and personal prayer.
So maybe “the prayers” can refer to all of the above.
In the Old Testament, they definitely prayed, three times daily, and it seems to continue on into the New Testament. In the book of Daniel, Daniel was thrown into a den of lions because he was faithful in prayer, praying three times daily. We can also look at the Psalms when it says that…
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice.Psalms 55:17
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.Daniel 6:10
Because prayer times were done both the Old and New Testament, how come we don’t pray three times a day? Well, maybe we are already doing so.
Christ approved of us “saying grace” or giving thanks before meals, in the New Testament. A common practice for most people several times a day is giving thanks before meals. This can be a time we take a step back, and focus on reconnecting with God thanking him.
Significance of 3 Times of Daily Prayer
In the New Testament, we see the Lord offering prayer before meals. He did not instruct or command us anywhere to do this; to “say grace” – like the Threefold Daily Prayers, it was a Jewish custom – not a part of the Law of Moses, and therefore its observance was not required.
Let’s look at the significance of praying three times a day.
9 a.m. (the third hour)
It could have taken place at any time of day or night, but God chose to send the Holy Spirit for the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost at the time of the Morning Prayer (9 am, the Jewish “third hour”):
For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the dayActs 2:15
Noon (the sixth hour)
God chose to give Peter a vision that would result in the acceptance of Gentiles into the Church at the time of the noon prayer (the Jewish “sixth hour”).
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.Acts 10:9
3 p.m. (the ninth hour)
God chose the time of the evening prayer (3 pm; the Jewish ninth hour) to send an Angel to the Centurion Cornelius:
At Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.”Acts 10:1-3
And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing”Acts 10:30
God also chose the time of the evening prayer (3 pm) to heal the lame man through Peter and John:
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.Acts 3:1-2
The Crucifixion of Christ
Christ was crucified at the third hour (9 am). Darkness came over the land at the sixth hour (noon) and lasted until the ninth hour (3 pm), when our Lord gave up His Spirit.
Christ, our Passover, gave up his spirit at the time of the evening sacrifice in fulfillment of his being: “…the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.” -John 1:29
9 a.m. (The Third hour) “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the superscription of His accusation was written over, The King of the Jews.”
Noon (The Sixth hour) “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
3 p.m. (The Ninth Hour)
And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”
“And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, He calls Elijah. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let him alone; let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”
And Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the spirit. And the veil of the Temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.Mark 15:25, 26, 33-38
The Apostle Paul instructed us concerning our observance of Communion:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.1 Corinthian 11:26
The observance of the three times of prayer of The Threefold Daily Prayers is done in Jewish custom, but I believe can serve as a reminder of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of himself on our behalf, one that is brought to mind daily.
God desires that we pray to him, and praying three times daily even at our meals, I believe is a good place to start. The significance of praying three times daily is seen throughout all of Scripture.
God desires our hearts. The more we come to Him, the more He can transform us for His kingdom.
If you are a believer in Jesus, I encourage you to start today. Start by rising up early and spending some time in prayer with the Lord. Then thank the Lord throughout your day, whether that be at your meals, at 9 am, noon, and 3 pm, or anytime the Lord lays on your heart to pray.