3.2.15 - Our Church - Our House of Prayer

The Scripture for today is Mark 11:15-19 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

“My house will be called a house of prayer…” House, home, church, temple, sanctuary – what images come to mind?  I sat in church today enjoying the message and found myself reflecting on the importance of a house of prayer.  When we gather on Sunday morning for worship, how many of us come in seeking sanctuary?  Seeking comfort?  Seeking connection with God and others?  Seeking respite from the weekly burdens of our lives?  How many of us crave the opportunity to lift our voice in praise and worship?  How many of us really need prayer – both individually and as part of the family of Point of Grace?  How many of us received much-needed nourishment for our soul as we participated in the Lord’s Supper?

“You have made it a ‘den of robbers’”.  This verse really resonated with me.  It brought to mind a church I once attended.  Politics, gossip, stiff-necked adherence to tradition, lack of support for the pastor and leaders, unwillingness to serve and other issues created a church where I didn’t experience joy, peace, the presence of the Spirit, comfort, or sanctuary.  The church wasn’t evil and there were certainly good, loving people there but I felt robbed – this was not a house of prayer for me. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for their abuse of authority; burdening the people with religious rules and regulations; turning the Father’s house into a marketplace and creating an environment where people were robbed of wealth, peace and joy.   There is a warning there for us – we are called to be salt and light in a broken world.  Our church is called to be a house of prayer.  With the guidance of the Spirit, we must discern God’s plan for us and our service to each precious person that walks in our doors.  We cannot let our church become all about us and our desire to be in control.

What would Jesus think if he came to our church or joined in one of our gatherings?  I think he would be pleased with the heartfelt worship songs being raised to the heavens by the people and the gifted individuals who serve on our worship team.  He would enjoy hearing His Word preached from the stage with such passion and truth.  He would appreciate the many individuals involved in serving before, during and after Sunday worship in so many different roles – each using their God-given talents.  But I think Jesus would look beyond our doors – into the homes and businesses all around us.  His heart would break for those who don’t have the comfort of a house of prayer.  He would mourn for those who live and work in places ruled by those who seek to rob them of His grace, peace and comfort.  Jesus just might overturn our comfortable routines and push us out of the boat to seek his lost ones.  Are we ready?  Jesus is calling!

Lord Jesus, give me a heart for your lost ones.  Help me to create a house in prayer in my household and my church.  Give me wisdom to see when I am guilty of behavior that robs others of your joy and peace so that I may repent and turn from my ways.  I love you, Lord Jesus.  Amen.