Recently, I gave a talk to a group of women in Singapore. I spoke about it previously on this blog. The subject of this presentation was G-d’s Calendar. I spoke about different elements of time in the Bible and how these important increments are observed today in Judaism.
The first marker of time is the day. In Genesis 1:5, it says that G-d “called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” We learn some interesting facts from this verse. First, that a day in the creation account is a 24 hour period and therefore G-d created the Earth in 6 literal days. Secondly, we learn how Judaism understands a day as sundown to sundown. We practice this today as well, as Shabbat, for example, begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday.
We see in Daniel 6:10 that Daniel prayed 3 times each day. This is still practiced in Judaism today. The three prayer services are: Shacharit (morning), Mincha (afternoon), and Maariv (evening). Shacharit comes from the Hebrew word “Shachar”, which means “dawn” or “morning”. Maariv comes from the Hebrew word “Erev”, which means evening. Mincha comes from the Hebrew word for “gift”. When considering the three times of day to pray, does it not make sense that the middle prayer service would be the most difficult one to do? One must interrupt his/her day and take the time to pray and commune with G-d. That is why it is called “gift”.
We also read in Psalm 55:17 that King David states: “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”
These are two examples which give us some insight into the development of the times for the prayer services in Judaism. Perhaps you may want to consider implementing this practice in your own life. You may not want to follow the Jewish prayer service found in a Siddur*, but you may want to pray Psalms and praise the L-rd at three distinct times during your day. This would be a great way to draw closer to the L-rd and to give yourself more opportunity to listen to Him.
*A siddur is a Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers. The word siddur comes from the Hebrew root ס־ד־ר meaning “order”. The prayers mainly consist of Scripture which has been put together into meaningful prayers.