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Isaiah 56.7 will sound familiar to you because Jesus quoted it on the day he cleansed the Temple.
Isaiah prophesied God’s loving activity for his people.
These I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples. (Isaiah 56.7)
A Gracious Gift
If we fully apprehended the gift of a personal relationship with God, we would be in awe of this indescribable gift of God’s love.
Prayer is the opportunity to have a conversational relationship with the Creator of the universe. Take a moment and gaze into the night sky or look at pictures from the Hubble telescope.
The awesome Creator of the vast universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you. The house of your heart is the place where God will meet with you each day.
People have often applied Paul’s words to the Corinthians to individual believers, as I have done with the “house of prayer.”
He wrote, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
“For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6.19-20).
Even though Paul seems to address the individual, the “body” in this passage is the church.
Even though I have applied “house of prayer” to the individual, and I believe it is accurate to do so, the best understanding of “house of prayer” and “body” is the gathered people of God and not merely the individual.
I remember praying with a group of 70 pastors several years ago. Our meeting was filled with singing, confession, prayer, and worship. Interestingly enough, preaching was absent from that meeting.
God’s presence was radically present with us. Once I tasted that kind of intimacy with God, I could no longer be content with sermons and music that lacked a strong sense of God’s presence. I had a taste of what is meant by God’s house becoming a house of prayer.
God’s Inclusive House of Prayer
After Jesus had cleansed the Temple, he said:
“It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21.13)
Isaiah’s prophecy included people who lived on the margins of society with those who are welcome in God’s house of prayer.
Jesus knew the heart of the Father and part of the reason for his confrontation in the Temple was over those who were abused by the system. God’s house of prayer had become something other than what God designed it to be.
If we are to understand God’s character, we must reckon with the fact that God is loving and just. If we claim to have a relationship with him but do not reflect his love and justice in our actions and attitudes, we would do well to evaluate our faith.
Thoughts About Maywood Baptist Church
As I reflect on this passage from Isaiah and Jesus’ use of it in his ministry, I recall two reasons why I am grateful to be a part of Maywood Baptist Church.
This past Sunday, Pastor Jake Taylor made a special effort to include someone accustomed to being excluded. On a very busy Sunday, Jake found time to give this person special attention.
Jake models inclusion in a very healthy and Christ-honoring way.
On Sunday, I sat in a class at a table of eight men. I suppose that half of them have been homeless at one time in their lives. I wasn’t there to lead these men. Instead, I learned from their life experiences and marveled at the story of God’s love that they told.
I praise God that Maywood is a place where everyone is valued and included.
Pastor Jake and our worship leader, Daniel Ricketts, have included prayer and worship in their areas of responsibility.
I hear that the practice for worship leaders includes more prayer and worship than it does the learning of new songs. Truly, Daniel is attempting to live out the prophecy of Isaiah that God’s house will be a house of prayer.
When decisions are to be made, Jake calls leaders to pray. He frequently asks people to spend lengthy times in solitude to listen for God’s direction.
His heart’s desire is for all leadership decisions to be made in an atmosphere of prayer and listening to God for guidance.
I believe that the leaders of Maywood have fulfilled the two aspects of Isaiah’s message. We are inclusive and prayerful.
Can we do better? Sure. But, praise God, we’re on the way.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video that accompanies this study. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is a fervent student of the Bible and lover of the Lord. I hope you will join Rudy and me for the video content.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.