An Atmosphere of Prayer
"‘It is written,’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’” (Matthew 21:13 NIV)
The first-century money changers were in the temple, but they didn’t have the spirit of the temple. They may have played a legitimate role in assisting people to worship, but they were out of sync with the whole purpose of the Lord’s house.
“The atmosphere of my Father’s house,” Jesus seemed to say, “is to be prayer. The aroma around my Father must be that of people opening their hearts in worship and supplication. This is not just a place to make a buck. This is a house for calling on the Lord.”
I do not mean to imply that the Jerusalem temple, built by Herod the Great, is the direct counterpart of our church buildings today. God no longer centers his presence in one particular building. In fact, the New Testament teaches that we are now his dwelling place; he lives in his people. How much more important, then, is Jesus’ message about the primacy of prayer?
The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s.
Does the Bible ever say, “My house shall be called a house of preaching”? Does it ever say, “My house shall be called a house of music”? Of course not. The Bible does say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Preaching, music, the reading of the Word—these things are fine; I believe in and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God’s dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Fresh Wind Fresh Fire)
Read Matthew 21:10-13.