"And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
I couldn't sleep this morning, so I thought that I would post the last thought for this week. Our guest this year at the 2011 Prayer Conference was Doug Small. Doug is president of Alive Ministries: Project Pray. He is also a field director for Awakening America. Finally, Doug is the Church of God liaison for prayer: see COG Prayer Initiative. I thought that I would share three items that He said or that I have read from one of his books, Transforming Your Church Into A House Of Prayer.
The first thought centers around the verse above. All of the activities of the temple at the time of Jesus led to a situation where the workings of the "church" were a barrier to a personal relationship with God. Here is a paragraph from the book mentioned above: "It was the desire of Jesus that the Temple be a house of prayer for all nations. Instead, it was full of religious activities with the priests in their rich garments, the sacrificial ceremonies, the formalities of pomp and priestly procedures, the rituals and rites of cleansing and consecration, repentance and restitution. In the midst of all the elaborate and sacred ceremonies--the blowing of the shofar, the fire and smoke, the blood of the altar and the water of the laver--the wonder of all the simplicity of communion with God, had been lost. Getting to God had become a complicated maze." Is it not the same today in many ways?
God help us to not allow the church, the bride of Christ, to stand in the way of Christ, the only means of salvation!
At prayer conference we were reminded to pray from an open Bible. Doug mentioned that if you went to the probate court and asked for a "pink Cadillac" from the estate and it was not a part of the estate, the executor would remind you that you can only receive from what is in the will. The New Testament is Christ's last will and testament. It became a binding document for true believers upon the death of Christ. Too many do not receive their desires as they do not line up with the "will". Those praying from the provisions of Christ's will are surely heard if they press on in prayer.
God Help me not to add my own fleshly wishes as a wish list of things that might hurt my relationship with you or my witness to the world! (And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. Psalm 106:15 )
The third thought is related to the idea that the church, at times, is getting in the way of relationship rather than being a tool to enhance a believer's relationship with Jesus. We spend too much time on other things and too little time actually praying. Preaching should be a means by which we hear more to take to prayer as well as prayerfully consider what we have heard. Look at the above verse again. Tie it to Paul's statement in First Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;" Notice the stress on prayer? Look at the exhortation of First Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."
God help us to restore the sweet incense of prayer to our lives, homes, and to your church! Forgive us for our inattention and indolence in our walk with you! Restore us to a place where we literally pray without ceasing!