The 7 Praises in a Day

The 7 Praises in a Day

The 7 Praises in a Day.

Seven (7): The Biblical number that represents perfection, completeness, wholeness, fulfillment, finished.

“Seven times each day I stop and shout praises, because of your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:164).

There may be many different ways to “pray yourself hot” in the course of a day. One prayer system that has stood the test of time comes from the Apostolic tradition. The early Church based the idea of fixed prayer times on Jewish law, which expected believers to pray three fixed times a day: in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. The early Christian leaders decided to take that verse in the psalm literally, constructing each day with 7 fixed prayer times for each day. It gradually became known as the Liturgy of the Hours. Seven times… the complete way to sanctify a day. This ancient structured system of prayer can be a Christian’s way of learning to think prayerfully, to cause one’s heart and mind to refer to the Lord during a day that does its best to distract one from God. The Hebrew concept in the Jewish Bible is that of “Kavvanah.” It refers to “directing the heart” to God in such a way that we are “inwardly turned toward God’s presence, offering our words or deeds or gifts upon an inner altar, the humble heart. When it comes to prayer, kavvanah is required, because kavvanah is the very essence of the act of prayer. Without it there is only the empty recitation of words.” (Arthur Green).

The 7 times for prayers established in the Liturgy of Hours are:

(1.) 6:00 a.m. sunrise;

(2.) 9:00 a.m.;

(3.) 12:00 noon;

(4.) 3:00 p.m.;

(5.) 6:00 p.m. vespers;

(6.) 9:00 p.m. compline;

(7) 12:00 midnight.

When possible, Christians gather together in church to pray at the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. times, while the remaining fixed prayer times are enjoyed privately. Each church tradition has established its own liturgies for these fixed prayers, complete with a designated psalm, hymn, Scripture reading, and prayer. One rightly wonders, this is an impossible regiment for those who have a busy family and who work all day. Isn’t this prayer structure meant only for those who live in a Christian community if not in a monastic setting? But one doesn’t need to be literally on their knees while in prayer. One can bow the heart, focus the mind just for whatever brief time one can manage, and achieve intimacy with God. In this way, we can follow the Biblical command to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17). One could even become so accustomed to these moments of undistracted prayer during the day that one maintains an unfettered conversation with God at a deeper level while one is conducting typical daily matters. To pray without ceasing is the goal, and the 7 fixed times of prayer is a way to achieve that goal.

“The familiar rhythms of fixed prayer serve ideally as a language familiar to the heart, one that can stir it to wakefulness like a friend who comes to remind one of the affections of a silent lover.” (Arthur Green).