“. . . for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7

What comes to mind when you think of God’s house? As you allow your mind to conjure images of His church, what is it that you see?

God said that His house would be called a house of prayer. I don’t know about you, but when I think of church, prayer isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind. Worship springs to the top of the list, followed by preaching. Prayer is certainly up there, but I don’t think of it as the focal point. Often prayer is even used as the transition to move the service along. Was that God’s intention for His house of prayer?

Rarely in Scripture do we witness Jesus displaying qualities that contrast His gentle humility, but one particular instance displays another very important aspect of His character. This scene is described in all four gospels; John alone reveals the disciples’ revelation in response to what they saw, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:17).

How did Jesus express this zeal?

 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:

“‘My house will be called 
   a house of prayer for all nations’?

But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Mark 11:15-17

Jesus is zealous for His Father’s house. His zeal so consumed Him, that He overturned the tables and benches of those displaying their wares in the temple. As He did, He reminded them of what God’s house was designed to be: a house of prayer.

Beloved, what does Jesus see when He enters the doors of our churches? Are we using the areas within the walls of God’s house as a showplace for our talents? Do we offer gifted oratory and entertaining music, hoping to catch the attention of those passing by?

Or, would Jesus’ Spirit rejoice over the prayer taking place among the people, a fragrant offering rising to the throne room of the Lord our God?

“.  . . the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8

Jesus said His house would be called a house of prayer. People would refer to it that way; prayer is what His house would be known for. Dear one, the glory of the church will only be revealed as God’s people learn to pray. Would you join me before the throne to petition the re-establishment of the house of prayer?

We will spend the next several weeks asking our Lord Jesus the same request uttered centuries ago by the lips of one of His first disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). As we deepen our understanding of prayer’s role within the church and in the life of the believer, may the gates of heaven open in response to the rise of the house of prayer.

“Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him . . .”

2 Chronicles 2:4