And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:15 NASB)
Synagogue. Jewfaq.org describes a synagogue this way: "the center of the Jewish religious community: a place of prayer, study and education..." Synagogues are always, at the minimum, a place of prayer. In Jesus's time, most little villages had a synagogue, where men gathered to pray and, usually, to study as well. The young boys would be taught the Torah there in a "study hall". Some synagogues are enormous, elaborate structures, holding thousands of people, but in the villages in Galilee, they were usually built of stone, and had one large assembly hall with a small room at the side for teaching the boys. Jesus began His ministry by going from village to village, visiting and teaching in their synagogues, the houses of prayer.
I'm not sure how you see the place where you gather with believers (your "church"), but I don't usually think of my church as a house of prayer. There is a room that I use regularly that is the "room of prayer", but house of prayer? Maybe not. To me, it's always been the "house of sermons".
Until today, I'm ashamed to say, I never saw a problem with this. Local synagogues were places of teaching and study, but that was secondary to corporate prayer. Jesus had a serious issue about turning His Father's house from being a house of prayer to a den of thieves, but maybe we would do well to consider that the problem began when the House of Prayer was turned into anything other than primarily a place of communing with God.
House of Prayer. I wonder, what would God do in response if we turned our churches into Houses of Prayer where we actually communicated with the Most High God and were still enough to hear that Still, Small Voice? How would we be changed? What about our loved ones who are struggling with issues of faith?
Dear ones, pray. Pray that we will allow God to turn our assemblies into Houses of Prayer and that we will approach The Most High God with humility and brokenness. He will not leave us unchanged. He will not fail to move. When that happens, those we love and for whom we pray will not be able to deny the work our God has done.