When my husband Doug and I were in the midst of building the home we raised our family in, he crawled beneath the front deck to get under the frame of the front door. There, just above the foundation, he inscribed the following passage: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. We will love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength” (Deut. 6:4-5). Anyone coming in and out of our home—including all of us on a daily basis—would have to cross over this declaration.
We helped our children write Scripture promises on the unfinished doorframes of their bedrooms and dedicate them to the Lord. Before we moved in, we gathered friends and family for a prayer of dedication. We did all this because we wanted our new home to be a sanctuary of God’s presence and protection—and we also wanted it to be a house of prayer.
In the Gospel accounts, notice how often Jesus spent time in homes, even more so than in temples and synagogues. Through prayer and the laying on of hands, He met the most pressing needs of people in the households He visited, bringing healing, deliverance, freedom, forgiveness, comfort, and more.
Whether we live in a mansion or a mobile home, a castle or a condo, or even just a rented room, the place we live—our personal space—is the “home base” for our prayer life. What that means is: I can’t expect for prayer to just “happen” at church, at my Bible study or small group, or anywhere else if I’m not practicing and growing in it as an individual.
I think the “house” imagery works well for helping us develop a blueprint for a vibrant and growing prayer life. Jesus said His “temple” was to be a house of prayer (Matt. 21:13). But His “temple” isn’t a brick and mortar place: WE are His temple!
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? (1 Cor. 6:19, NLT)
We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (Eph. 2:21, NLT)
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. (1 Pet. 2:5, NLT)
That’s why it’s so important to build a “house of prayer” in our own homes and hearts. The culture of prayer we create there invites the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to go beyond our own four walls and be powerful agents of God’s Kingdom wherever we go! As the gathered Church, we will be more powerful in prayer corporately when we are powerful in prayer privately.
Andrew Murray (1818-1917), was a famous Scottish-South African pastor who wrote over 240 books, many of them on prayer. I find his writings so informative and challenging! In With Christ in the School of Prayer, he said:
“The place and power of prayer in the Christian life is too little understood. As long as we view prayer simply as the means of maintaining our own Christian lives, we will not fully understand what it is really supposed to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us—the root and strength of all other work—we will see that there is nothing we need to study more than the art of praying.”
I love how Murray considered prayer an “art.” We can study it. We can learn it, practice it, mature in it. We can intentionally build it into infrastructure of our lives—with powerful results.
(c) 2017 Arlyn Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.