Jesus was passionate about prayer. The week before He was crucified, He triumphantly entered Jerusalem, with crowds of people accompanying Him, praising God. Yet when He went to the temple—what was supposed to be the center of worship and prayer—what a contrast! It had been turned into a corrupt marketplace by those seeking to make money by selling animals to people for their sacrifices.
How did Jesus respond to this? He was angered by what the temple had become, and He “drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves” (Matthew 21:12). Quoting the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, “He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves”’” (Matthew 21:13; see Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11).
After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within all who believed in Him. This made the corporate church, as well as individual believers, into a living temple of God. The same is the case today. As the apostle Paul wrote:
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
As the living temple of God, the church is to be “a house of prayer.” Do you have the same passion for prayer that Jesus did?
The early church was also characterized by this passion for prayer. The Scripture says that as Jesus’s followers were waiting for the “Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4)—the gift of the Holy Spirit—they gathered in an upper room and “with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer” (Acts 1:14 ASV). After Pentecost, as God added to the church those who were being saved, Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The church asked God for direction before making important decisions (see, for example, Acts 1:24–26) and for boldness to testify about Christ (see Acts 4:29–31). Prayer was a fundamental part of their ministry, as we can see in many biblical passages. (See, for example, Acts 2:46–47; 3:1; 6:4.) As a result, there was much spiritual life and activity in the church, with healings and miracles and deliverances.
The centrality—and power—of prayer have been lost in the church today. If you are among those who do not know how to pray, and who often need to depend on the prayers of others, you can become a house of prayer. The purpose of this devotional is to show you what prayer is—and how to pray. Jesus’s disciples weren’t sure how to pray, either, and that’s why He had to teach them.
Now it came to pass, as [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
Jesus proceeded to give them a model for prayer. (See verses 2–4.) He brought them the revelation of how to pray in a new way that acknowledged their heavenly Father, His kingdom, and their brothers and sisters. It is crucial for the church, as the body of Christ, to be restored to its original purpose and to recover its true function. When we don’t have a consistent and continual prayer life, we become spiritually weak and lazy, until we finally dry up.
Thus, for the church to be the genuine body of Christ, it needs to be a house of prayer. Our heavenly Father is calling us to return to this essential role. To join with other Christians to become a house of prayer, the believer must always have the attitude and spirit of prayer as a state of mind. It is not about praying only when we feel like it, but about praying continually because we know it is our primary calling and function. This way, we will always be in the presence of God. All Christians must be a house of prayer because Christianity is about being like Christ, and He always prayed. Even today, He intercedes for us before the Father. (See Hebrews 7:25.) Therefore, when you are a house of prayer, you are like Christ.
Thought: A life without prayer lacks spiritual activity.