In the Old Testament we are constantly reminded that the priests continually performed sacrifices five times a day, every day, 365 days of the year (or however many days there were in their calendar). Day after day they performed the same rituals, over and over again.
- At 6 o’clock in the morning they made the burnt offering; a complete offering ascending to God to bring Israel closer to Him.
- At 9 o’clock they made the meal offering; offering a voluntary gift of fine flour, olive oil and frankincense without leaven (without sin).
- At 12 o’clock they made the peace offering; offering complete devotion to God in Israel’s service to Him.
- At 3 o’clock they made the sin offering; offering for complete purification from transgression (atonement)
- At 6 o’clock they made the trespass offering; a guilt offering in compensation for unintentional and certain intentional transgressions (distinct from the sin offering).
It is clear that Jesus can be seen in all of these sacrifices and that in sum, they pointed to His ultimate sacrifice. But that study is for another time. The thought that hit me when thinking about these daily sacrifices was in reference to Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians:
1 Thess 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Was Paul thinking about these daily sacrifices and the commitment to continually offer them day after day? Was he referring to a time of stopping and engaging in concentrated prayer? I think we can all agree that today we, as the bride of Christ, view praying without ceasing as a commitment to be in constant communion with Jesus all day long through His Spirit.
I used to struggle with that concept and believed that I had to consciously focus on praying at all times… legalism? But somewhere along the journey I came to realize that it is a mindset. If I am truly walking with someone, the last thing I want to do is ignore their presence. But that is exactly what we do when we allow all that is going on around us and in us to give place to the enemy to distract and confuse us. That’s why Paul chose the word adialeiptos for “without ceasing,” as it carries the meaning of “remembrance” rather than “unbroken continuity” (Vine’s). In other words, not becoming distracted and forgetting about who we are walking with and failing to communicate with Him throughout the day.
Yes, I realize that we have all heard this message over and over again. But like everything else in life, it we don’t truly understand the message and become obedient to it, we will take it for granted. And I was reminded this morning of how easily it is for me to do that on a daily basis. I may start out my day with the 6 o’clock burnt offering but by the time 9 o’clock rolls around I am busily involved with the day’s distractions.
Perhaps I need to make a more dedicated and concerted effort to ensure that I don’t forget with whom I am walking and not fail to listen to what He is saying to me. After all, it might just have something to do with all those other things that are trying to distract me. Then again, it is a fact that the Holy Spirit tells us that this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you … all Around the Clock