As Christians, prayer is one of the most important things we do. Prayer is what unites us to God. It is the way that we build a relationship with Him and it is His way of communicating with us. Prayer causes us to pause, to turn ourselves back to God and to remind ourselves of who He is and who we are in Him.
Prayer can take many different forms: it can be informal or formal, it can be private or corporate, it can be silent or with words, it can be done at any time or in any location. But the act of a more intentional or routine daily prayer can be traced all the way back to the time of Deuteronomy and the ancient Israelites. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is speaking to the next generation of Israelites before they enter the promised land. He does not want them to be like the previous generation who grumbled and complained and constantly turned away from God. Moses reminds this next generation of their calling to be God’s people. He reminds them of a higher way of living, of a rule of life that will bring blessings to them and their families.
6 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
I love the last verse where the people of Israel are instructed to teach their children diligently and to talk about the things of God at regular hours of the day.
This last verse became the basis for the Jewish practice of praying morning, noon and night to the Lord. And, when the early church started, the practice continued and they prayed in the same way as well. Christians since the very beginning have prayed at these set times throughout the day.
When we embrace this rule of life, we, too, are joining in this great tradition of prayer going all of the way back to the ancient Israelites, through the early church until today. We are modeling for ourselves and our family that we seek God in prayer every day. We are acknowledging that our days are not our own but are the Lord’s and that regularly, throughout the day, we will remind ourselves of His presence, of His greatness and of His goodness.
Keep checking in because on Friday I’ll be sharing some practical ways to start the practice of daily prayer individually or with your family!