house of prayer

A New Day!

The first of this month, April 2014, I began a new chapter in my life and ministry. In God’s providence, through a series of divinely orchestrated events, I have been invited to become the executive director of the Twin Cities House of Prayer (TC-HOP).

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog have undoubtedly picked up on the fact that prayer has been the preeminent burden and focus of my heart over the past year from my many posts on that topic.

My personal prayer, breathed by the Holy Spirit has been “Lord, make me a house of prayer for all nations.” Over the course of time, as with any God inspired prayer, He has been answering. As a result there had been a growing passion within me that cries for the “kingdom of this world to become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” (Revelation 11:15)

Starting with me, where spiritual journeys of transformation always begin, my scope of prayer has expanded in concentric waves outward to include my home, my church and the church at large. All of these constitute His “house,” His dwelling place. It is the same house to which Jesus issued His mandate that first Palm Sunday after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem when He declared “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations!”

3 Reasons for Joy in the House of Prayer

“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:7 (NIV)
There is something captivating about the promise of joy as a desired end of prayer. Joy is typically not something that we freely associate with prayer – solemnity yes, sobriety, stamina, even anguish, but not joy. But contrary to conventional wisdom, God is saying in this verse that an accompanying and abiding experience in prayer is meant to be joy.
Practically how does that happen? David who continually spent time in God’s house of prayer gives us some insight. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)
From this verse we discover three primary reasons for experiencing joy when we pray.
1) God shares His secrets with us when we pray by giving us a “path of life” revelation. One of the great sources of joy in the place of prayer is the revelation we receive for ourselves, others and the direction in which to pray. Jeremiah puts it this way “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)
2) God’s promises His presence when we pray and the “fullness of joy” that accompanies His presence. The essence of that joy is simply spending time with Him. It is in getting to know Him, His nature and character and learning His ways. Moses, who experienced God’s presence as few men, cried out to God “Now if you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Exodus 33:13)
3) We have the “pleasure” and privilege of exercising Kingdom authority when we pray. The right hand of God is where Christ is seated in heavenly places, far above all rule and authority; and it is there in the Spirit we are seated with Him. (Ephesians 2:6) From a place of prayer we enter into the non-stop intercession with Jesus – that “His name be hallowed, His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I believe that “the pleasures forevermore” at the Father’s right hand are the sense of purpose and accomplishment we feel when we are making a difference in the world through our intercession with Jesus.
Like many people, I can personally confirm for the reasons just given that there is a remarkable release of joy when entering into a season of concentrated prayer. Such joy is typically not attendant to the casual or intermittent pray-er, but reserved for those who with diligence set their hearts to seek the Lord with regularity and over extended periods of time. That is not to say the God will not break in with His joy upon anyone who prays, under any condition, for God is sovereign, but the abiding experience of joy comes most readily to those who abide in His presence.
As I think about the times in prayer when I have been overcome with joy, it has invariably been a result of one or a combination of the three causes of joy listed above. God has given me joy in His house of prayer when I’ve heard His voice, sensed His manifest presence and/or felt the anointing to make a throne room proclamation of His will. In those times, I have felt what motivated Joshua to choose to stay in the Lord’s presence, rather than accompany Moses back to the camp. (Exodus 33:11)
Please share your joy-filled experiences in prayer. Under what circumstance has the Lord given you joy in His house of prayer?
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4 Things I am (Re)Learning about Prayer

Those of you who read this blog with any regularity have probably noticed that most of my posts over the past months have been on the same topic. You may have been wondering what happened to Tom? His blogs used to be more interesting, now all he talks about is prayer. . . . boring!

Well back on March 16, nearly five months ago now, something did happen. That morning when I was meditating on Jesus’ words “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17) I felt the Lord speak to me as clearly as I have ever heard Him. From deep within my spirit the Holy Spirit gave me this simple repetitive prayer for myself: “Make me a house of prayer. Make me a house of prayer. Make me a house of prayer . . . .”

Since the Bible calls each individual believer in Christ a temple of the Holy Spirit I had a stark realization. Before the Church, big “C”, and churches, little “c”, can become a house of prayer, each believer must first become a house of prayer. And that includes me! I have been praying this prayer daily ever since.

It has had a marked effect upon my life. The more I have prayed it, the more the desire to pray has grown within me leading to a more consistent and deeper prayer life than I have ever experienced. In the process I am discovering that my perspective and understanding of prayer are undergoing a subtle transformation.

Here are four things I am seeing with greater clarity:

Two ways to be a house of prayer for all nations

And He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Mark 11:17

What did Jesus mean when He said “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? This is a most critical question. If as Jesus’ teachings and the New Testament indicate, that His “house” over which He is the head is “the church which is His body,” then the church must be sure to make it a priority to be about that which He has called it to be. (Ephesians 1:22-23 & 1Timothy 3:15)

In order to understand this mandate for the church more clearly we must look at the context in which Jesus said this and specifically what He meant by the phrase “for all nations.”

This call for the church to be a house of prayer is recorded four separate places in the Scriptures: three times in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 & Luke 19:46) and once in the quote to which Jesus is referring, when He says “is it not written”, in Isaiah 56:7.

Make me, a house of prayer.

And Jesus began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.’” Mark 11:17

The context in which Jesus said this was during His historic cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem which took place the very week leading up to His eventual betrayal and crucifixion. He had just driven out all the merchants and money changers. The teeming crowds gathered there in preparation for Passover were doubtless standing in stunned silence, astonished at the demonstrative way in which the great, revered teacher had underscored His point. He made two extraordinary statements. First He declared that the Temple was His house, a claim which if made by any other person would be blasphemy. And second He insisted that His house’s salient, defining purpose was to be a house of prayer.

Several days later, that agonizing night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He issued a similar call to prayer to His own disciples. “Could you not watch with me one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

The problem of prayerlessness, both in corporate worship settings and in the private devotional lives of individuals is very much with us yet today.

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