‘…these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.’ Isaiah 56:7 February of 1982 is a significant date for me because this is when I gave my life to Jesus behind a sand dune in the desert of Libya. I was there working on an oil rig and found myself as the only person who was a Christian. I prayed that God would send other Christians so that I could grow in this new direction I had taken. Within a few months, God did send a Thai believer who, like myself, was praying that there would be other Christians. Without speaking any English, he identified himself to me as a Christian by joining his hands together in the symbol of prayer and then by drawing a cross in the sand. This was unmistakable and we soon began to meet to pray together and have communion, (with coke and potato chips!) Here we were, out in the middle of the Sahara desert, and language was not an issue, because we had the common language of prayer. Isaiah 56: 7 is, for good reason, one of the most quoted verses in regards to prayer for Christians, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.’ This amazing verse teaches us that prayer is for everybody, not just those ‘called’ to prayer, but for all Christians, of all nations. But please don’t miss verse 6 that speaks of ‘foreigners who will bind themselves to the Lord...’ This is speaking of the coming universal church that will carry one of the identifying marks of all true Christians, in that they will pray. In clearing the temple of the merchants and moneychangers, Jesus was not only coming against the offensive practice of turning the temple ‘into a market’, Jn. 2:16, but Jesus was also clearing a way for the Gentiles to come to pray. These merchants were established in the outer court of the temple, the one place where Gentiles could come to pray. Jesus violently opposed this and in quoting Isa. 56:7, he was applying the Father’s inclusiveness as His priority. His heart was and is that all may come and seek God. Not only is prayer something that is seen ‘for all nations’, but we could properly add, ‘for all generations’. For sure it is in the heart of God to see men, women, and children, from the oldest to the youngest, joining together to become a House of Prayer. To see this become a reality, we need to teach on prayer, but even more importantly, we need to model prayer to the next generation. It was after seeing Jesus model prayer that one of the disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1. I am sure that this request came, not simply because of the posture of Jesus, but because of listening to the content of his prayers and no doubt, seeing the answers to his prayers. In other words, Jesus’ prayers before the disciples were not silent, but out loud. How else can we model prayer to someone? It is in that place where others may witness our hearts engaging with God’s heart; praying the Word; confessing our shortcomings and dependence, and where the ‘hand of faith reaches out to the Hand of Grace’. When genuine prayer is properly modelled, the next generation will also be able to enter into the joy and experience of seeing the answers to these prayers. I maintain, that when a young man or young woman, see a God who miraculously answers prayer, they become ‘hooked’ on prayer! Then, corporately, we are seen as living stones being built into a living temple or ‘house of prayer.’ “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.” Psalm 145: 5, 6.
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