Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Matthew 21:13 (NLT): “He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer,” but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Arguably one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life is prayer. The infinite, immense, holy God who created all things and keeps it all going has invited us into His presence. We enter His presence through the activity of prayer.
It is through prayer that we make our requests known to Him. It is through prayer that we convey our heart’s burdens to Him. And it is through prayer that we spend time with Him and come to know Him and enjoy Him more.
Yet, all too often, we spend very little time praying.
Why? We typically use the excuse of a busy life – we don’t have enough time to include prayer in our hectic schedule. While it certainly may be true that we are busy, we always find time to do things like eating, sleeping, and other things that we value.
It’s not that we are too busy – it’s that we don’t value prayer as much as the other activities that we refuse to ignore. We simply do not place a high enough priority on prayer, or we would make time for it.
In this morning’s verse for the day, we hear Jesus say something profound. He was walking through the Temple and noticed a lot of activity around the place of worship. It was noisy. It stunk of animal remains. Anger and frustration permeated the atmosphere as “worshipers” were taken advantage of by shysters selling sacrificial animals at a ridiculously elevated price.
Jesus had seen enough. Anger boiled up within Him. He overturned tables. He quickly made a whip and began running people out of the Temple area. And, to justify His actions, He yelled out for all to hear the words of Isaiah 56:7, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer.’”
He said that the primary purpose of the Temple wasn’t all the sacrifices – it was prayer.
It wasn’t preaching or teaching – it was prayer.
It wasn’t fellowship – it was prayer.
It wasn’t acts of kindness or ministry – it was prayer.
Every activity of biblical worship is wonderful and beneficial. Time should be allotted to do those things. But, the Temple was to be called “a house of prayer.” So, prayer was the most important among all the other activities that the Temple worshippers would engage in.
This makes it unquestionably clear how high of a priority that God places on prayer.
So, when we show up to our worship services, we must spend time in prayer. And those prayers should not be cold, lifeless, and rote; they should be heartfelt with a desire to engage with the Father. God wants us to encounter Him in prayer when we gather for worship. (I will never forget the Sunday morning about 9 years ago that I felt led by the Lord to lead my church family in some extra time of prayer. A visitor stormed out of the auditorium at the end of the service and told our head usher, “I didn’t come to church to pray!” Good grief!)
We also need to be people of prayer. The Temple no longer exists. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. That’s on purpose because God’s children are now the Temples of the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). Since we are His Temple, and God resides within us, prayer should be what characterizes us. Unbroken communion with our Father made possible as we spend much time each day breathing prayers Heavenward.
And don’t worry that your prayers don’t sound as good as you would like. Don’t worry that you can’t pray for more than a few minutes at a time. Don’t stress over not knowing what to pray about. Just do it! Your Father, who longs to hear from you, will meet you halfway and teach you how to commune with Him in prayer.