PROSEIICHA (pros'ii-ka), (Gr. rpocrevA firos yoo-kay', prayer), a word signifying 'prayer,' and always so translated in the Auth. Version.
It is, however, applied, per meton., to a place of prayer,—a place where assemblies for prayer were held, whether a building or not. In this sense it seems also to be mentioned in Luke vi: 12, where it is said that our Savior went up into a mountain to pray, and continued all night rpocrEvx"n ro0 0E011, which can hardly bear the sense our translators have put upon it, 'in prayer to God.' This is admitted by Whitby and others, who infer, from the use of parallel phrases, such as 'the mount of God,' the bread of God,' 'the altar of God,' the lamp of God,' etc., which were all things consecrated or appropriated to the service of God, that the phrase might here signify 'an oratory of God,' or a place that was devoted to his service, especially for prayer.
That there really were such places of devotion among the Jews is unquestionable. They were mostly outside those towns in which there were no synagogues, because the laws or their adminis trators would not admit any.
They appear to have been usually situated near a river, or the seashore, for the convenience of ablution (Joseph. Anliq. xiv. to, 23). Josephus
repeatedly mentions proseudur in his Life, and speaks of the people being gathered in the proscuclia (Vito, sec. 44, 46). Sometimes the proseucha was a large building, as that at Tiberias (I. c. sec. 54), so that the name was sometimes applied even to synagogues (Vitringa, Synag. Vct. p. 119). But, for the most part, the proseuchm appear to have been places in the open air, in a grove, or in shrubberies, or even under a tree, although always, as we may presume, near water, for the convenience of those ablutions which with the Jews always preceded prayer, as, indeed, they did among the pagans, and as they do among the Moslems at the present day. The usages of the latter exhibit something answering to the Jewish proseuchx, in the shape of small oratories, with a niche indicating the direction of Mecca, which is often seen in Moslem countries by the side of a spring, a reservoir, or a large water jar, which is daily replenished for the use of travelers. (See Jennings, Jewish Antiquities, pp. 379-382; Prideaux's Connection, ii. 556.)