Summary: This is the fourth sermon in the series on prayer. This message deals with the things that rob our prayer.
The Thieves of Prayer
Mark 11:15-19 KJV And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;  And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.  And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.  And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.  And when even was come, he went out of the city.
I. INTRODUCTION -- HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
-The text that we have read is an account of the second cleansing of the Temple. Three years had now passed since the first Temple cleansing that is recorded in John (2:12-17).
-When you make a comparison between the first Temple cleansing and the second Temple cleansing, it appears that a huge progression had come about. In John 2, one finds the Lord simply saying that the temple had been turned into a house of merchandise. . . . . but what did not stay cleansed had deteriorated into a “den of thieves.” It took just three short years for this to happen.
-When the Lord walked into the Temple on both of those days, He determined to clean it up. He walked into that littered court and began to see the cages of animals in disarray there was something that welled up inside of Him.
• He could hear the bleating of sheep and cry of the dove.
• He saw the oxen working the cud in their mouths.
• He heard the rattle of money being swept off the tables and into the bags.
• He breathed in the foul odors of animal droppings.
• He watched as shrewd moneychangers cheated worshipers one after the other.
• He took in all of the haggling and cheating and irreverence.
• He then saw something that would help Him clean out the Temple. . . . a broken tether and a lost rope. . . to which He begin to weave together and form a whip. . . . then He assailed the money-changers. . . and begin the cleansing. . .
-In His first year, He cleansed. . . . In His third year, He cleansed. . .
-The second cleansing was marked by His gathering anger. Jesus had watched the steadily mounting rebellion in His visits to the Temple. It was not an overnight thing where the animals had shown up for the inflated market price. It was over a period of time. . . It is the gradual that gets far more than the sudden change. . . But when prayer is forced out, the Temple will get desecrated.
-This is the way that it is in our walk with God. If the first cleansing is not effective there will be a dangerous demise of the sacred things in our lives. If leaven is left long enough, its influence escalates. . . that is why it is imperative for us to get rid of the “thieves.”
• You cannot market your sacrifice of prayer.
• You cannot barter with your hunger for holiness.
• You cannot trade your offerings of righteousness.