READING: Matthew 20-21
Isaiah wrote it first: God’s house was to be “a house of prayer" (Isa 56:7). It was, in fact, to be a house of prayer for all nations. The peoples of the world would gather there to worship the one and only true and living God. By Jesus’ day, though, the court of the Temple where the Gentiles could gather to pray had become instead a place of buying and selling — perhaps even a place of extortion where worshipers were charge exorbitant prices for their sacrifices. Jesus even called it “a den of robbers” (Matt 21:13). The place for the nations to gather had been turned into a marketplace, and Jesus carried out His righteous anger on the sellers. Prayer, not purchasing, was to be the purpose there.
Perhaps our issues are different today, but I still wonder if our churches are a place of prayer for all nations. Many believers pray irregularly, and then only when they face a problem they cannot solve. Moreover, our churches tend to pray perfunctory prayers at established times in the service; they do not have prayer in their congregational DNA. On top of all that, too few churches are even aware of the nations, much less have people groups of the world worshiping among them. Many churches neither pray for the nations nor invite peoples of the world to join them for worship. I find it difficult to say that many of us gather in “a house of prayer” (Matt 21:13).
What shall we do to address this issue? Unless our individual lives have a prayer DNA and our families build homes that are houses of prayer, we will not see churches that are prayerful churches. We will instead go through the motions of Christianity, praying expected prayers but nonetheless leaning more on ourselves than on God. Meanwhile, the peoples around the world who are desperate for God put us to shame with their passion for prayer and their desire to reach others. Indeed, believers around the globe have now begun to pray for apathetic churches in North America.
A congregational house of prayer begins with a family house of prayer. And, a family house of prayer begins with a family leader’s life of prayer. Start building that house through your life today.
- Evaluate your church’s prayer focus. Would your church be known as a house of prayer?
- If your home is not a home of prayer, change that direction today. Pray with your spouse and your children. Start afresh, and stay committed.
PRAYER: “Make me, God, a person of prayer. Make my family a home of prayer and our church a house of prayer.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Matthew 22-23