By: Rasid Rachman
Daily office, namely several times prayer per-day, is a common activity in several cultural and religion. Not only in Islam, that we have known so far and we call sholat, but also in Buddhism and Hinduism has been practicing daily prayer for centuries ago. Actually, daily prayer has been known in Christianity, and has been informed by some writers of the Holy Scripture as well.
Both Old Testament and New Testament inform their readers about those activities. Daniel prayed three times a day at upper room of his place with his face toward Jerusalem. Psalters told us about a morning prayer, a mid-day prayer, en evening prayer, a mid-night prayer, and even whole night long prayer, etc. The Act told us that Peter has come to the Temple to daily prayer at third hour, sixth hour, and ninth hour. At least, there are three until five times prayer a day that be held by people.
In the beginning of Christianity and in the Patristic era, some Church Fathers gave a teaching of daily prayer or divine office. Hippolytus of Rome at the third century, for example, announced that seven times is a Christian daily office. According to the Psalm 119:164 (RSV) “Seven times a day I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances.” He taught his disciples and assembly to pray at sunrise, third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, before sunset, before sleep or mid-night, and finally at cock crow. According to the Gospel of Mark, Hippolytus taught the Christians: people pray at sunrise to praise the Lord and for preparing to work on that day. Prayer at third hour (around nine am) or tertia, because remembrance of the Lord who was punished by Pilate. Prayer at sixth hour (around twelve)or sexta is remembrance that the Lord was hung on the cross. Prayer at ninth hour (around three pm) or nona is remembrance the dead of the Lord. Prayer at sunset is remembrance to the body of the Lord was peacefully buried. Prayer before sleep, because the Christians are the children of light, so they have to watch during night. Finally is prayer at the cock crows is remembrance to the Peter that denied his Teacher. Those prayers are totally seven times a day.
Not only in the past, but also in modern era now, daily office is a routine activity in common monasteries. Some monasteries such as Trappist and Benedictine throughout the world are fully practicing divine office. Besides manual work such cooking and gardening, and intellectual task such as reading and writing, monks ordinarily pray several times a day in chapel. ˚