“It is written My house will be called a house of prayer,” Jesus announced as, disgusted with the ungodly commerce around Him, he upset the tables of the money changers. Scripture tells us our body is also the temple of God and we, too are to be houses of prayer. Keep reading to learn how to be a house of prayer in five simple steps to become a house of prayer and change your life.
Jesus wants a house of prayer
Jesus rode a borrowed donkey into the city as the crowds shouted Hosannas and waved palm branches. The people cheered and surrounded him but Jesus wept as He approached the massive Golden Gate and entered Jerusalem. “If you had only known…” (Luke 19:41-44)
The one for whom they’d waited so long was at the gate, but He didn’t bring the political change they wanted. The Kingdom Jesus offered required a change within, and most people would have none of it. In less than a week, He would lay down His life for people who didn’t care.
The Pharisees rebuked Jesus for the outrageous display of love and support from His followers, but that day they couldn’t be stopped. There was no need for the religious leaders to fear, however. Jesus knew their praise would change before the week was out.
For Him, it was one more hard day in his thirty-three-year-long sojourn this side of Heaven. By the beginning of Holy Week, the countdown was measured in days and hours. Time was short and the hardest part loomed ahead.
The Tone of the Week
Jesus went straightaway to the temple, where he turned over the tables of the money changers and the seats of the dove sellers and set the tone for the rest of the week. (Matthew 21:1-13) He quoted Isaiah as he spoke words that are too easily overlooked.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer…” (Matthew 21:13)
The religious leaders were irate. They made money from the temple vendors. How did Jesus dare to disrupt the status quo? Their “system” badly needed cleansing and redemption, but they couldn’t see it. They chose not to see it.
The beautiful temple was supposed to be a place dedicated to prayer to our Heavenly Father. It was anything but.
The temple of believers
According to the apostle Paul, we, the body of Christ, are God’s temple because His Spirit now abides in us. If we are to be the dwelling place of God, then we are also supposed to be a dwelling of prayer, a house of prayer.
Selah. Pause and consider that for a moment.
Jesus’ first act after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His kingly procession, moved the focus from material things to spiritual and established the preeminent importance of prayer. Instead of the right coins or the perfect animal sacrifice, we must approach God with the right heart and the right relationship.
Relationship over ritual
Jesus did more than flip tables that day. He flipped everything about religion and changed it from a series of rituals to a lifetime relationship. Becoming a house of prayer presumes a life of intimacy with our Heavenly Father.
Ritual’s easier, isn’t it?
There are times when a litany and a ritual seem much easier than stillness and obedience. If you’re anything like me, there are days when you’d rather DO something than BE something. I feel that far too often but there’s an important truth we need to remember:
“Being” isn’t optional for the disciple of Christ.
James’ words proclaim this truth. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22. Today, why not begin with the words of Jesus on that holy day so long ago? Choose to be a house of prayer and follow these five simple steps to become a house of prayer.
What does it mean to be a house of prayer?
Do you wonder how to become a house of prayer? In the model prayer, Jesus taught his disciples a simple formula for prayer. It’s a good model for living as a house of prayer, as well and can be summarized in these steps to become a house of prayer.
Five Steps to Become a House of Prayer:
- Begin each day with praise and honor for God
- Surrender to God’s will and God’s glory instead of our own
- Live simply and be content
- Practice forgiveness.
- Pursue holiness.
- Begin each day with praise and honor for God.
Read the Psalms and use them as a starting point for prayer. Make thanksgiving a regular part of our prayer time and our day. Meditate on Scripture and allow it to infuse and change our lives.
- Surrender to God’s will and God’s glory instead of our own.
The Bible gives clear direction on God’s general will. Love Him first, love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and love other believers. If we love as He commands, we’ll have made a good start on obeying His will and not our own. It’s important to seek His will in the specifics, too, but always begin with love.
- Live simply and be content.
Present our requests for daily needs to God, not the extravagant desires of our materialistic society. We don’t need every piece of new technology available. It’s not necessary to have the newest phone or the most stylish clothes. We can be satisfied with less, but we must choose contentment.
- Practice forgiveness.
Confess sin and request forgiveness, but be quick to offer it to others. Bitterness destroys joy and robs us of happiness. Stop rehashing our hurts and let them go. Forgiveness helps us far more than the one we forgive.
- Pursue holiness.
Ask for protection from evil as a declaration of our intent to avoid it. Study Scripture to understand holiness from God’s perspective, then put what we learn into action. Allow Him to change us, understanding that His ways are not the ways of our world.
We must make a choice.
The fans in the crowd during Jesus’ triumphal entry cheered in celebration but failed to change in surrender. Their choice cost them dearly.
We too must choose. We can cheer with the crowd or change for our King and become the house of prayer He intended. Which will it be?
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
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