Thursday, June 29, 2017

When We Finally Decide to Become a House of Prayer


Prayer ministry is a hard job and there are days when I'd rather go home and let someone else try to pray for the work of missions. I struggle. It's tough work. It requires sacrifice and humility and repentance, none of which are my strong suits. 

I've agonized for months about what it means to have a culture of prayer. What does it look like? How do you accomplish it? I've read the passage in Isaiah 56, from which Jesus quoted when he drove out the money changers, many times. Today, I've seen it in a new way. 

Here's the Leanna paraphrase:

Now about the foreigners who join themselves with the Lord and follow His way: I'm going to bring them to My holy mountain, where My presence dwells, and give them great joy in prayer. My house will be a house of prayer for all the peoples. (from Isaiah 56:6-7) 

"For My house will be a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:7

I read those verses with the temple in mind and asked again, what does it mean to be a house of prayer? How do you get that? As clear as a bell, a verse from 1 Corinthians came to mind. 

"Do you not know the you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 nasb

The house of prayer Jesus intended is me. You. Us.

We are the temple of God. 

What Christ intended is that we, the temple of God, would become a house of prayer. Not a house of busyness. Not a house of acting just like the world. Not a house of pride, selfishness, or commerce. 

We, individually, are to be a temple (or house) of prayer.

How do we become a house of prayer? We do what Jesus did when He cleansed the temple. He removed the moneychangers, the commerce, the focus on the letter of the law instead of the Spirit of the law. We, too, must fervently remove those things in our lives that prevent a focus on prayer.

Removing our sin is not enough to transform us into houses of prayer. 

We must also turn our focus to prayer. Seek God's will in everything. Pray without ceasing. Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. Bathe every decision, every action, every act of ministry in prayer. 

God's will must be our first thought, not our last. 

If we need help in starting this culture of prayer within ourselves, the best guide is the Bible. Pray Scripture. Meditate on a verse and pray that God makes it a reality in our lives, in the lives of those we love.

Here's a little tutorial on how to start:

1) Read Psalm 51 aloud and pray each verse. 
2) Focus on verse 10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10 nasb
3) Consider what things (attitudes, desires, priorities) in your heart prevent a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. Repent, and ask God to remove them. 
4) Read the Psalm aloud as a prayer every day for a week and meditate on (spend time thinking about) the words of the Psalmist's prayer. During the day, go back to the Psalm at least three times and pray through the verses.
5) What if you don't want what David wanted? Ask God to give you the desire for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. 

We can be a house of prayer, if we will... so let's make a start. Take our focus off the things of this world and place it where it belongs - on Christ alone. 
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: When We Need a Little Extra Calling

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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