Summary: We may be the most orthodox in belief; we may be the most inspirational in our music, but with out prayer we have no power.
The House of Prayer
Introduction: Jim Cymballa, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, told his small congregation that “if they called upon the Lord, He had promised in His word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, and to pour out His Spirit among them. If they did not call upon the Lord, He had promised them nothing.” What a powerful primes behind the practice of prayer. If we pray God’s power will be manifested in and through our life and ministry, but if we do not it will not. This is not because God can not act if we do not pray, rather it is that God will act through another if we do not pray.
We may be the most orthodox in belief; we may be the most inspirational in our music, but with out prayer we have no power. Pastor Cymbala said it best when he told his congregation, “No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times in prayer. Prayer will be the engine that drives the church.” In other words if we have no prayer life as a church we have no fuel to accomplish the task God has called us to.
“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-o-meter, and from it we may judge the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”
“The church, therefore, is behooved to pray. The most important lesson that the church can learn is not only how to pray – but to pray!” Let us explore some principles of pray. (Source of Quotes: Prayer – The Greater Work: A Step-by-Step Approach for Implementing a Church Prayer Ministry, Evangelism Department State Board of Missions Alabama Baptist Convention.)
The Purpose of the House.
What is the purpose of the House of God? Why did God have the Tabernacle built? Why did God allow Solomon to build Him a temple? God answers that question for us in His glorious word. We find written in Exodus the purpose of the Tabernacle when the Lord said; “This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory (Exodus 29.42-43 KJV).” The Tabernacle was a place where God meet with His people. God said the Tabernacle was the place where He would meet His people to “speak” with them. How do we speak with or communicate with God? We communicate with God through prayer. Thus, the tabernacle was a place of prayer. And so it was with the House of the Lord built by Solomon.
Jesus confirms this for us when He cleansed the temple of the money changers. As He ran the money changers out He said, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer (Matthew 21.13a KJV).” This He quoted from the prophet Isaiah speaking of those “strangers” to Israel who would join themselves to the Lord: “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer (Isaiah 5.7 KJV).”
Clearly we see from scripture that the Purpose of the House of God is to be a place of communication between God and man. This is accomplished primarily though pray and the study of His Holy Word. As it was then so it is now a meeting place for God to commune with His people both individually and corporately. The question is how are we doing in fulfilling God’s purpose for His House?
The Problem in the House.
As I scan the vast sea of the Christian culture in America I think that we have missed the boat on the purpose of God’s House. I believe we are much like the money changers of Jesus’ day. Jesus as He ran them out of the House of God, told them that they had “made it a den of thieves (Matthew 21.13b)”, because of their robbing the people who came to convert their money to by sacrifices. They had turn the House into something other than what it was intended to be. We may not have turned the House of God in to a den of thieves, but many of us have turned it into something it was not intended to be.
Today, many Houses of Worship are nothing more than production houses for modern religious entertainment. Many churches today are nothing more than social meeting places where men, women, boys, and girls come to socialize and have a good time. Many of today’s, churches have become the fast food restaurants of religion where we can come and get our weekly spiritual fix with out disrupting the important events of life. Rather than meet God at His House today we go through empty ritual and call it worship. When God looks down at the church today He must surely say, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matthew 15.8 KJV).”