Summary: Jesus is calling churches to be places where prayer is the power source.

A House of Prayer

Matthew 21:12-13

February 6, 2004

Morning Service


Research at San Francisco General Hospital has revealed that victims of heart attack, heart failure and other cardiac problems who were remembered in prayers fared better than those who were not. Cardiologist Randy Byrd assigned 192 patients to the "prayed-for" group and 201 patients to the "not-prayed-for" group. All patients were in the coronary intensive care unit. Patients, doctors and nurses did not know which group patients were in. Prayer group members were scattered around the nation and given only the first names, diagnoses and prognoses of patients. The researcher said that the results were dramatic. The prayed-for group had significantly fewer complications than the unremembered group. And fewer members of the former died. The latter group was five times more likely to develop infections requiring antibiotics, and three times more likely to develop a lung condition, leading to heart failure. These findings were published in the American Heart Association.

AC Dixon said this: When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, and so on. Nor am I disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place, but when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools that we have been given by God but it also seems to be one of the least used tools of the church. We far too often rely on programs, ministries and our personal efforts to accomplish the work of God but in reality we need to start with prayer. I believe that Jesus is waiting to pour out His power, presence, peace, provision and protection to those who make the commitment to take a stand on their knees.

12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 "It is written," he said to them, " `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ " Matthew 21:12-13

What was it that made Jesus so angry that day so long ago in Jerusalem? What was it that sent the one who was God in flesh into such aggressive action?

Let’s take a closer look at the situation going on in the temple court that day. When Jesus enters the temple area the first place that He would come to is the outer courts, which was a massive area of open space for people to come and pray. This area was always crowded with people and would have been a place dedicated for both Jewish and non-Jewish people to seek God. The day that Jesus walked into the temple courts there was something else going on: an absolute misuse of the area.

Jesus combats the problem - Jesus drove out those buying and selling

Why would people have been buying things in the temple courts?

The outer courts had been filled with merchants selling animals for people to purchase in order to sacrifice in the temple. Why were the merchants set up in the outer courts? Every person who came to offer sacrifices at the temple would have to have their animal inspected to be sure that it passed the criteria for sacrifices. The priests who were inspecting would look for reasons to no pass the animals people brought in and so they would be unable to worship.

Not to fear though the priests would direct these individuals to the merchants who just happened to be selling pre-approved animals. The merchants would have a significant mark up on these animals, sometimes over twice the actual value. So the people who were rejected by the priest would buy their animal from the merchants.

Jesus was removing the problem from the temple area and placing prayer back in the place it rightfully belonged. Jesus steps into the situation and gets things back on track. Why does Jesus do this?

Jesus placed a high priority on prayer throughout His personal ministry. Over and over again we see Jesus teaching about prayer and showing a vivid example of prayer by personal practice.

If Jesus placed this much emphasis on prayer with His disciples shouldn’t we also place a high priority on prayer?

What practices of this church need to be “drove out” so we can place prayer back in its rightful place? What things need to be given up so we can be pray more often?

The reality of our problem

• We become so busy serving that we fail to take the time to spend with Christ in prayer

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