So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.
- Joshua 5.3
The assiduous observance of the canonical hours is regarded as primary. The sages regard the beginning of the day and the end of the night as the correct times for the celebration of Morning Prayer.
- The Rule of Ailbe, Irish, 8th century
It’s crucial to note the ways God insists on keeping first things first for all who would engage in the business of His covenant and Kingdom.
As in the case of Moses (Ex. 4.24-26), so also with Joshua, the work of leadership could not begin until a right spiritual orientation was achieved by all concerned. Circumcision would have reminded every Israelite warrior, in the heat of battle, that he was different, he was set apart, he belonged to God.
Prayer is the means whereby we maintain that orientation today. Paul’s command that we learn to pray without ceasing is not mere rhetoric. Prayer is always a first thing, one that we need to renew, refresh, and re-engage throughout the day, in imitation of the saints of the Old and New Testaments, as well as throughout the course of Church history.
We are not ready to do the work of the King unless we are properly set apart and oriented to His unseen throne, and the place to achieve that separateness and orientation is in prayer. Keeping the hours of prayer – set times of meeting with the Lord throughout the day – allows us to hang our day on prayer, to retreat to oases of spiritual refreshment amid the desert dry activities of our mundane lives, and to find in so doing an orientation to that makes everything matter as a means for bringing glory and honor to God.
Set times to meet the Lord in prayer, then work hard to keep them assiduously. Watch how God energizes your set apart life for His glory and praise.
Psalm 55.16-19 (Bread of Life: “Break Thou the Bread of Life”)
Lord, I will call on You, answer and save!
Morning and evening, too, my voice I raise.
Grant me Your peace, O Lord; answer my foes!
All who reject God’s Word He overthrows.
Teach me to retreat into You throughout the day, O Lord, for then I shall be always ready to serve You as You lead.