a. The lens of Scripture is now in sharper focus
b. Jesus travels from Jericho to the east and passes through Bethphage and then Bethany. As He nears Bethphage and the Mount of Olives He gives His disciples instructions regarding a mule. He tells them what to do, what to say when challenged and by what authority He was doing this. He is now beginning to identify Himself to the people as the Messiah. The disciples heard from the Lord and then they obeyed. As a result Scriptural prophecy from several hundred years before given by Isaiah and Zechariah was fulfilled. The disciples put their cloaks on the mule and the people put their cloaks on the ground and wave palm branches. This is no small gathering. This is a rally of thousands of people. Masses of people from Israel traveling from the North and east are coming through Bethany and they are following behind and around Jesus. Jerusalem is only 2 miles away and the thousands of people that are already there hear the commotion and find out that it is Jesus coming and they come out of the city moving towards Bethany to see this great prophet from Nazareth. It was just 3 years ago that someone had asked if anything good could come out of Nazareth. That question has been answered long ago by the widespread news of healing and teaching. The crowds are cheering as Jesus passes by.
c. Location context: The Mount of Olives is east of Jerusalem and is separated by the Kidron Valley. The river of the Kidron valley flows red with blood from the sacrificial animals slaughtered for the Passover every year. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God passes through the valley and enters Jerusalem through the Sheep’s Gate which is where the sacrificial animals are taken to be slaughtered.
d. When Jesus came into the temple area he saw the money changers there and those who were there selling animals to be used as sacrificial offerings for those who had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. They were selling animals at exorbitant prices and changing money in order to profit off of the needs of the people. Jesus’ entire ministry was a radical ministry. It went against the teachings of the religious leaders of the day. It went against the socially accepted norms of the day. In this instance Jesus turns over the tables and runs the merchants out of the Temple area and reinforces from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah that the Temple was to be a house of prayer. It was to be a place of personal relationship with God Almighty. It was a place to worship Him, pray for others and self, and to hear from God. Instead, they had made it into a mini-mall to meet the monetary wants of the selfish and greedy.
e. Today, Jesus wants to do something radical in your life and in the lives of the people around you. I believe that we are losing an understanding of what prayer is and how to pray.
2. Point 1
a. The Temple used to be the place that people would go to pray and hear from God. The Temple was segregated into specific areas where Gentiles could go, women could go, and priests could go. The Holy place was separated from the Holy of Holies, where God resided, by a huge veil and only the High Priest could enter. Jesus made radical change here when during the crucifixion and curtain separating the Holy place from the Holy of Holies, separating man from God, was torn from top to bottom. You and I have direct access to God without the need of any intermediary. Through Christ we receive forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God himself. When asked “Who are you?” few people would respond, “I am the Temple of God” and yet that is exactly what Scripture says that we are.
b. 1 Cor 3:16-17
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
So not only are you God’s Temple but you are sacred.
When we receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior we receive forgiveness of sin and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our heart.
1 Cor 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.
2 Cor 6:16
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
God wants to turn over the tables of sin in my life and yours that keep us from experiencing God’s best in our lives. You and I individually are to be a house of prayer and when we come together corporately we become a more powerful house of prayer because we have been experiencing God.
3. Point 2 – Misunderstandings regarding prayer
a. The proper position to pray in: There is none. We are to pray without ceasing.
b. The proper time to pray: there is none. We are to pray without ceasing.
Illustration: I’ve come to a better understanding of what it means to “pray without ceasing.” Last week I went to FOB Lightning and ran 3.5miles with SGM Lynch. FOB Lightning is at an elevation of 8,000ft and the route we ran had another 200ft elevation increase. I prayed during that run without ceasing. My prayer started with “Lord help!” changed to “Lord create more air quickly” moved to “Lord make it stop!” progressed to “Come Lord Jesus take me home” and then at the end “Praise God!”
Praying without ceasing means to be unconsciously and naturally talking to God without thinking about it. It is like breathing. We don’t think about it we just naturally do it. If we stop breathing we die. If we stop praying our relationship with God dies.
c. The proper words to pray: there is none. We are talking to God just like the disciples. They had a personal relationship with God. They walked with Him and He with them. They experienced life together. That is what God wants for us today. To experience him personally on a regular basis.
d. Many times we do all the talking. We should be spending as much time if not more listening rather than talking. Many times we just jump right in with our wants, needs, and desires. We need to approach the throne of God humbly. Here are a couple of quick tools you can use to boost your prayer life.
i. Adoration – praise God for who He is.
ii. Confession – confess sin
iii. Thanksgiving – thank God for what He has done.
iv. Supplication – make your request known to God.
f. Pray Scripture:
i. 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Here is a practical way to pray this Scripture. Pray “Lord, your Word says that if I confess my sins you will forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Lord, I pray that you would bring to my mind any sin in my life that has not been confessed.”
You better have paper and pen ready because God will honor that prayer. Write down everything that comes to mind and be specific. Continue writing until nothing else comes. At that time go to the top of the list and one by one confess each sin that is listed being specific.
After confessing all sins to God tear up all the sins and either burn them or throw them in the trash and pray, “Lord, I have confessed all the sins that I am aware of and I thank for forgiving me and cleansing me from all unrighteousness.”
4. Point 3 – Power of God
a. Illustration “Making the Connection”
When Herbert Jackson was a new missionary he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. He thought about it and came up with a solution. He went to a school near his home and got permission to take some of the children out of class to give his car a push. As he made his rounds he would either park on a hill or leave his car running. He used this procedure for 2 years until bad health forced him to leave and a new missionary was assigned. When Jackson proudly began to explain how to get the car started the new missionary started looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete the new missionary interrupted, “Dr. Jackson, I believe the trouble is this loose cable.” He tightened the cable, turned the ignition switch and the vehicle roared to life. For 2 years needless trouble had become the routine. The power was there but a loose connection prevented the power from being put into action.
b. Through their personal relationship with Christ the Disciples saw Scripture being fulfilled right in front of their eyes as Jesus got on the colt and entered Jerusalem on His Triumphal entry. Prayer is the vehicle by which we maintain our relationship with God and the Holy Spirit leads us and teaches us. Through prayer we will see God’s power exerted in and through our lives.
a. Pearl necklace illustration
b. Don’t settle for your understanding or society’s understanding. Don’t limit yourself to your wants and desires. Receive God’s best. “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” By being a house of prayer you will experience God’s best in your life.