Q: #419. Did the Jews pray at certain times?
By: Steve Shirley
A: Most Jews believed (and still believe today) they had a duty to pray 3 times a day. They based this primarily on two verses. The Book of Daniel shows Daniel praying 3 times a day (Dan 6:10), and David says in (Ps 55:17) that he prayed "evening, and morning, and at noon." In addition, many Jews believed that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob established 3 separate times to pray: Abraham - morning (Gen 19:27), Isaac - afternoon (Gen 24:63), Jacob - night (Gen 28:11). Morning and evening prayers also coincided with when God said daily sacrifices were to be performed at the Tabernacle/Temple (Ex 29:36-42)(Num 28:3-8)(2 Chr 2:4).
The times for these prayers are generally 9:00 a.m. (the third hour), 12:00 p.m. [noon] (the sixth hour), and 3 p.m. (the ninth hour). We can see these prayer times still being followed in the New Testament. For example, we see the disciples praying at the "third hour" (Acts 2:15), Peter praying at the "sixth hour" (Acts 10:9), and John/Peter praying at the "ninth hour" (Acts 3:1) (as well as Cornelius: Acts 10:30).
INTERESTINGLY (I had not known this until this study), these times for Jewish prayer also correlate to Jesus' death on the cross. He was crucified at 9:00 a.m. (Mk 15:25), darkness fell over the land starting at 12:00 p.m. [noon] (Mt 27:45)(Mk 15:33)(Lk 23:44), and Jesus died at 3 p.m. (Mt 27:46)(Mk 15:33).