Katie Snipes Lancaster
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
Spiritual Practice: Fixed-Hour Prayer
The history of time includes the history of prayer. The Bible says to pray without ceasing, but by the end of the first century, maybe church leaders decided no one was quite praying without ceasing, so there were new instructions: Pray the Lord’s prayer three times a day. Then in the early third century, a church leader instructed that people really should be praying not just at the obligatory daily morning and evening prayers, but also when the bell rang at the third, sixth, and ninth hours. You can see how a history of time, and time pieces, intersects with the history of prayer: in order for the community to be able to follow these instructions, they needed church bells and clocks to keep time. Clocks helped communities live into their commitments to God.
Nowadays, it’s easy to set an alarm on your phone (that of course, you have with you almost always), and set it to go off 5 times a day, and let it remind you to pray. When the alarm sounds, say, “God, be with me,” or say the Lord’s Prayer, or list aloud or silently the names of people you are praying for today, or just breathe deeply in the presence of God.
Fixed-hour prayer is praying at a fixed hour every day. It is intended to help us to move from never praying toward “praying without ceasing,” since always being in prayer is such a high expectation about our connection to God. Fixed-hour prayer helps us, in baby steps or realistic ways, connect to God throughout the regular rhythm of our lives.
God, be with us.
Hear our prayer.
Hear us as we seek to connect with you.
Give us the obligation of prayer,
The grace of connecting with you.