Fixed Hour Prayer
[as described by Phyllis Tickle]
Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in Judaism. When the Psalmist says, “Seven times a day do I praise You,” he is referring to fixed-hour prayer as it existed in ancient Judaism. We do not know the hours that were appointed in the Psalmist’s time for those prayers. During the flow of Roman commercial life, forum bells began the work day at six in the morning (first hour), sounded mid-morning break at nine (third hour), the noon meal and siesta at twelve (sixth hour), the re-commencing of trade at three (ninth hour), and the close of business at six (vespers). With the addition of evening prayers and early prayers upon arising, the structure of fixed-hour prayer was established in a form that is very close to that which Christians still use today.