Christ’s Sacrifice and Prayer Times
One of the things that is essential to maintain life and that we cannot forget to do is breathing. Most people who are in good health can hold their breath for approximately two minutes before they lose consciousness. For those who live a Christian life, prayer is known as “breathing for the soul.” Just as we need to breathe in order to remain alive, in the same way, we must constantly pray to God to maintain our spiritual life.
Although the Bible tells us to pray to God continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), we can also see that the disciples who walked with Jesus had set times in which they prayed to God. These set times to pray to God are not a coincidence, but they are established on the basis of the sacrificial offerings in the time of Moses.
When Are the Prayer Times Held?
The Apostles and the believers of the early church set the third (9:00 a.m.) and the ninth (3:00 p.m.) hour as the times for prayer, and they prayed to God every day at these times. These hours were not randomly chosen, nor are they coincidental. The third and ninth hour are the times when Jesus—the reality of all the sacrificial offerings in the Old Testament – was crucified and finally passed away.
Mark 15:25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.
Matthew 27:46-50 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” —which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” … And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Jesus was put on the cross at 9:00 a.m. and He passed away at 3:00 p.m. The disciples kept these hours as the time for prayer every day.
Acts 2:1-15 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place … It’s only nine in the morning!
Acts 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.
Acts 10:30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon…”
The prayer times kept by the disciples in the New Testament are related to the regular burnt offerings that were offered daily in the morning and in the evening. God established the heavenly sanctuary as a place to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins; to save all mankind. And after He showed the heavenly sanctuary to Moses and made him build the shadow; the sanctuary on earth, and ordered him to offer the sacrifices according to His laws (Hebrews 8:5).
The Regular Burnt Offering of the Old Testament.
According to God’s command, not only did His people offer sacrifices in the sanctuary to repent of their sins, but also, other sacrificial rituals took place there. Obviously, all sacrificial rituals were the model of the true sacrifice that would be accomplished in the heavenly sanctuary through Christ (Hebrews 10:1-10). One of the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament times was the regular burnt offering.
Numbers 28:3-8 Say to them: ‘This is the food offering you are to present to the Lord: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. Offer one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight…’
Exodus 29:38-42 “This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight … “For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you…”
The regular burnt was offered daily in the morning and at twilight, this was done by presenting two male lambs in sacrifice alongside drink and grain offerings. These sacrifices were established as a prophecy of Christ, who is the true sacrifice. For this reason, Christ was put on the cross at the third hour (9:00 a.m.) and died at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). Since Christ became the ultimate sacrifice, when we pray at the third and ninth hour, our prayers are conveyed to God along with the sacrifice
Ancient Time Keeping vs. Modern Time Keeping
The time system that was kept by Early Church used a different method than what we use today. Although today we are using the 24-hour system, the members of the early Church used a different calculation method for the daytime and the night time. For the daytime, they used a 12-hour system and set hour zero at the time of the sunrise, and the twelfth hour at the time of sunset (Matthew 20:1-16). The night was divided into the first to fourth watch, and a watch was made up to three hours (Matthew 14:25, Luke 12:38).
Since the time of sunrise and sunset is different according to the season, there is a time difference for the prayer times in the summer and winter season. For the summer season, the prayer time is at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and for the winter season it is at 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (1)
The Meaning of the Sacrifice At “Twilight”
Some individuals will have a question that could be a potential stumbling block. The command in Numbers and Exodus says to offer one daily lamb sacrifice at morning and the other a twilight. Because twilight is generally known as the moment of time between day and night, some people would ask why is it that the afternoon prayer time is at 3:00 p.m. and not later when the sun is setting.
The fact is that in the original Hebrew text, the time of the second burnt offering was described as “towards twilight” or “between twilights.” So it wasn’t actually at twilight when the lamb was sacrificed, but the priest would sacrifice the second lamb of the daily sacrifices at 3:00 p.m., and it was left burning until twilight and cleaned up before nightfall. The priests conducted the first sacrifice at 9:00 am and leave it burning until 3:00 p.m., then they would sacrifice the second lamb and leave it burning until the end of the day. This is why Jesus was crucified at 9:00 am and have His last breath at 3:00 p.m., fulfilling the sacrifice of the temple.
Prayer Times Should Be Kept Daily.
By Levitical definition, the daily burnt offerings were known as the “perpetual sacrifice.” Perpetual means never ending. Since prayer is “breathing for the soul,” only those who keep the prayer times are the ones who are spiritually alive. Today, the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) is the only the church that follows the daily prayer times. As the Levitical priests made so much effort to offer the daily burnt offerings to God, then how much more effort should we make to meet God through prayer? The value of prayer time cannot be compared. Let us keep the daily prayer times remembering Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.