Most Churches knew and emphasized the importance of prayer. However, knowledge does not necessarily result in the practice of prayer. Just as many people know the importance of physical exercise or eating healthy food but this knowledge does not result in actual practice. Our Sunday Sermons topic for the month of May and June has been on Prayer and so in this short devotion I want to share on the topic of prayer based on Mark 11:17
“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Jesus said this when he cleansed the Temple. Jerusalem Temple was the only place designated by God for the Jewish people to offer sacrifices to the Lord and this was the only place where the chief priest would meet God once a year in the Holy of Holies on the day of Pentecost. During the time of Jesus there were many Jews scattered all over the Roman Empire and during the Passover thousands upon thousands would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. These travellers needed animals for sacrifices, and they also needed to pay the temple tax using the temple coin. The corrupt religious leaders of those days took advantage of these situation and made the temple their money-making place. They brought money changers and the sale of sacrificial animals to the “the courts of the Gentiles”. These corrupt practices of the religious leaders had greatly angered our Lord Jesus and he cleansed the temple, by overturning the tables of the money changers, released the sacrificial animals that were sold at the temple.
It was not wrong to sell animal or change money as the Jewish pilgrims would need these services. However, the problem was the way they go about doing this. They had taken over the worship place for gentiles to do their corrupt business at the Temple. And so, our Lord Jesus cleansed the temple and declared these words, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
What would our Lord Jesus say if He were to come today to our churches in person and see all the activities that we are doing? Jerusalem Temple was the place worship for the Jews, today our churches are places for worship. Will our Lord Jesus find our churches praying? Or find our church filled with all kinds of activity with no prayer?
The church was born out of a prayer meeting. The 120 disciples were praying together in the upper room and the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon them and the church was born that day. We read again and again in the scriptures that the churches were praying together, and God did amazing miracles in answer to their prayers. We have the same God that was with the early disciples, and He invites us to pray, He asks us to ask, to seek and to knock. We are in a spiritual warfare; our number one enemy is Satan. We are not in peace time, we are in the battlefield already, we cannot afford to put our guards down. If we want our church to grow in faith and zeal, the only way is to look to God in prayer. Hudson Taylor said, “When we work, we work, when we pray God works.” Let us grow in our prayer as a church and may the Lord find our church pleasing in His sight.