Jump Start # 2707
Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.”
Our simple verse today shows so much. The Jews had set hours to pray. Here, it was the ninth hour, or 3 PM for us. Peter and John knew that. They would have once been part of that praying crowd at 3 PM. They knew Jews would be at the Temple and it would provide a great audience to preach.
I find it interesting that they had a set hour to pray. Three in the afternoon, most of us are busy working away. Papers stacked up on the desk, mountains of emails to deal with, out and about in our cars. Kids wrapping up a school day and heading home. That time of day is busy for most of us. Unless we have an appointment, the clock can spin past three and we don’t even notice. Just the other day we were doing some podcast recording, planning and as left the studio room and looked up at a clock, it was already four in the afternoon. Missed three o’clock completely.
There is something special about have a regular time to pray. I like that ninth hour prayer time. In causes a person to put a halt on this busy life and remember the Lord and it invites the Lord into our day. Praying at specific hours has a way of keeping our perspective and vision clear.
Long ago, brethren met on Wednesday evening, not so much for Bible class, but for pray. It was called a prayer meeting. Ever Wednesday evening the church was praying and it wasn’t just a quick opening and closing prayer. They prayed. The emphasis of that gathering was praying. More time was spent talking to God than talking to each other. A praying church is a good thing.
Sometimes it seems when we pray, we have to run through a whole list of things, making sure we check off all the items for it to be an acceptable prayer. Maybe praying daily and at a regular time would allow us to focus more on fewer things. I’ve often wondered if simply mentioning an item is the same as praying for that thing. Maybe it would be better to focus on fewer things and really talk to God than to run quickly through a whole list, fearful that we might miss something.
What’s on your heart? What bothers you? What are you truly joyful and thankful for? Talk to God about those things. Open up and spend some time on them. I’ve had some tell me that it is easier for them to pray about others than it is to pray about themselves. That might be a sign of humility, they care about others more. Or, it could indicate that they are struggling with things and they haven’t got totally transparent with God about that. Confessing sins isn’t high on the list of things we look forward to doing. However, that is necessary and important.
I’ve yet to meet the Christian who is happy and satisfied with his prayer life. I think we all feel about the same way when it comes to praying. Just don’t pray enough. Just not praying deeply. Just find myself saying the same things over and over. It’s easier to talk about God than it is to talk to God. If you feel this way, you are not alone. In fact, you are with most of us. Bible classes on prayer takes us through the basics, which we know. Special prayer sessions remind us of the many different kinds of prayers.
Ninth hour praying was part of the structure of the Jews. They were taught to do that. We haven’t. We’ve been taught that you need to pray and you ought to pray, but then it is left up to us. And, what typically happens is that life gets busy, there are so many things racing through our minds that prayer is forgotten. It’s not that we do not want to pray, we do. It’s just that we get so busy that we forget to pray.
So, as a suggestion, try the “Ninth hour” approach. And, if it works better for you to pick another time of the day, do so. But for a week, every day, when that clock hits three o’clock, you stop what you are doing, and pray. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. You’ve gotten through most of the day, things to be thankful for, things to confess, things to ask for help. Every day. Every day at three o’clock. Make it like a doctor’s appointment. In the middle of a phone call, excuse yourself and end the call. You don’t have to be in any particular place to do this. You can do this while driving, but please keep your eyes open and on the road. Try to eliminate distractions and noise. Your praying can be silent, but heartfelt.
Everyday—same time. Give it a try. The first few days will be awkward. But a rhythm gets established. You can build upon one prayer to the next. You’ll find yourself in a better place when you finish. You’ll get to the point that you look forward to your “ninth hour.” And, I expect in time, you’ll find yourself praying about more and more things.
It was the ninth hour—the hour of prayer. Sure something to try.