A house of prayer

Luke 19:46: saying unto them, It is written, And my house shall be a house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of robbers.

Prayer is a spirituwherever-i-go-god-is-thereal activity. You can only prioritise prayer when you understand the place of the unseen in the dynamics of things; when you realise the power in prayer, the kind of influence it allows you to wield in the unseen realm and how that is very important for the life that you now live, then you will take prayer very seriously, and dedicate a good chunk of your life to it. The church is only a place of power as long as it is a place of prayer.

A certain man brought his son to the disciples to deliver him from the oppression of a demon (Matthew 17:14-21), they were not able to but Jesus was able to free that boy from demonic oppression with a word of command. The disciples were amazed at how easy it was for him and how impossible it was for them. It was obviously not a problem of methodology. Because they didn’t ask Jesus: teach us the method you used to cast out that devil.  They had probably used the same or similar words but got different result. Jesus then let them know that the problem was their faith, but with a footnote that such demons don’t yield ground except by prayer and fasting. He therefore hinted that fasting and prayer can help their faith. And faith is what makes a walk with God possible, because the bible says that the just shall live by faith and not by sight (2Corinthians 5:7).

God has designed that is power resides in his house, in the church. Jesus said that God has given him all authority in heaven and earth and had commissioned his people to take the message of the gospel to the ends of the earthly, bringing in people (Matthew 28:18-20).  But that is not doable expect by prayer.

In Acts we see the place of prayer in the achievement of the commission of the church playing out.

On Pentecost, God had people from the nations of the world there in Jerusalem and (after ten days of prayer), Peter was before his first unbelieving audience post the ascension of Jesus. And fresh from being baptised in the Holy Spirit, he ministers to them, with 3000 people coming to Christ (Acts 2:12-14).  He quickly learnt that the place of prayer is the place of power, that to fulfill the divine commission of reaching the world, the house of God must key into the reality of being the house of prayer for all nations, to reach all nations.

That the attitude of the apostles was “prayer first,” was shown in the scene were a man was healed from lameness at the beautiful gate of the temple (Acts 3). There were going to the temple at the hour of prayer, making public their commitment to prayer.

Later on when the church grew and complaints cropped up in the church (Acts 6:1-4), the apostles decided that they need to get less practical and more spiritual, they need to have restored back in their lives the primacy of prayer.

When Peter was imprisoned in the church (Acts 12); the church woke up to her power and wielded it in the place of prayer, and heaven responded with stupendous deliverance for Peter from the prison. They didn’t set a Herod lobby group, to try to cause Herod to change his mind. Instead they activated God’s power in the place of prayer.

Before that, when threats were coming in thick and fast from the religions hierarchy in Jerusalem, the church rose us to pray (Acts 4:21-33), to wield their power, so that they would not be affected by the threats but push forward in recognition of their divine destiny. They refused to be cowed. But they also refused to be self deceived that they have anything to trust in and not even themselves but God whom they resorted to in prayers (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Paul spoke of Epaphras to the church in Colossi that he labours for them so that they may be stand complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12-13). He was fulfilling the word of the focus verse. As the house of prayer on an individual basis, he was being the house of prayer for the Christians in Colossi. From the altar of his heart there continues the flow of the incense of prayer to God (Revelation 8:3-4), concerning those people.

Samuel the prophet said that he does not want to sin against God by neglecting to be a house of prayer for the nation of Israel (1Samuel 12:23). Anna the prophetess for many decades was a house of prayer (Luke 2:36-38). We were told that after she lost her husband at a very young age, she decided to dedicate herself to prayer.

Because of that she operates by word of knowledge, and was able to recognise Jesus and tell of him to those who were looking for the salvation of Israel, that they should look no further. This gives the hint of what she had been praying for. It is my guess that the coming of Jesus could have been the outcome of her service to God in prayer and fasting, because God usually does not do things expected in response to the prayer of his people.

He said that if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray (2Chronicles 7:14), calling on his name, he would hear from heaven and heal their land (Jesus was surely is healing to our lives, and the fasting is called humbling of the soul). He promised to act in response to prayer. Daniel took Him on His word and that became the basis of his intercession for the nation of Israel, with astounding response from heaven (Daniel 9).

Paul expressed his commitment to pray for the churches (Galatians 4:19, 2Corinthians 11:28, Ephesians 1:15-23).  He was a house of prayer as far as they were concerned. His voice was always heard concerning then. That is also our individual call: to be houses of prayer.

Jesus, the house of God was also a house of prayer. Even now what we read is that he forever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Enough of distraction, Peter urged us to take up the task of prayer with all seriousness (1Peter 4:7). Jude said it is by building up ourselves on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit that we avoid the decay all around us (Jude 1 [v20]).

A house of prayer is where changes are generated all the time. It is born out of a desire to move away from the status-quo, to step into new things and to help others also. All these is keyed to faith as God said that the one who comes to him must be believe that he is and a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

 

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