What exactly is a House of Prayer?
The first reference given to a house of prayer is found in the Old Testament in Isaiah 56:7 “For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”(all Nations) parenthesis mine. The next time this passage is mentioned is in the New Testament and Jesus quotes the same verse in Matthew 21:12-13 after He entered the temple and drove out the all those who were buying and selling and the money changers and Jesus quotes the passage from Isaiah. In Matthew 21:13, Jesus says “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS DEN.” There are two other times in the New Testament this same verse is quoted and those are found in Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46.
Why would Jesus refer to His house as a House of Prayer?
First of all, Christ himself was a house of prayer and he was teaching his disciples to become one by modeling this for them when He continually withdrew and was talking with His Father and drawing strength from that intimate relationship He had in heaven. This same intimate relationship is one we can have because Jesus Christ came and hung on a cross to pay the price for us with his life, a perfect sacrifice shedding His blood for the forgiveness of all of our sins (John 3:16-17) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Remember, the Father in heaven sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be born of the virgin Mary, through the Holy Spirit, as a child to live with a real earthly mother, father and family and experience life as we know it. Think about it this way. As a child you have an intimate relationship with your earthly father or mother and you want to be around them and you depend upon them for certain things like food, clothing, a home to live in, and all the good things you like and need. Well, even though Jesus had those earthly parents, He came from heaven and longed for the intimate relationship with His Father in heaven. Prayer was that connection of intimacy that He left behind when He came to earth. He was modeling this for His disciples, and for us to follow, as He restored the relationship for us with the Father by His death, burial and resurrection.
There was such a longing in Jesus’ heart for heaven even though he lived as a man on this earth. Philippians 3:20 puts it this way, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the thing Jesus longed for while He was here upon the earth because He came from heaven and knew He would be returning there upon His resurrection. So, you see, even though we live on this earth and live out our lives here, as we give our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ to become Savior and Lord we then also become citizens of heaven as we are restored to our Heavenly Father.
What is prayer?
Prayer is that longing and intimacy restored and brought back to life which was dead in our sinful state, apart from Jesus Christ. Prayer is that intimate communication with the Father in heaven and the house of prayer is the earthly expression of what is in heaven. And that is why Jesus was so adamant about it in Matthew 21:12-13 when He came into His house and saw what it had become–this house includes two types of houses explained below.
In Luke 11:1 Jesus’ disciples came and asked Him, “Teach us how to pray”. This desire must have grown out of them as they watched and heard Jesus have intimate conversations (read: prayers) with His heavenly Father, which Christ modeled for them day by day. Eventually that led them to ask Him the above question. We see in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4 Jesus gives them insight and instruction into what He has been praying all along and this has become known to most of us as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Many of us learned this prayer growing up and could recite it at will or could at least enter into it when the congregation was reciting it. This is not the only thing that Jesus prayed but he gave it as instruction or as a “how to.” To Jesus, prayer was a joy and that’s why the scriptures say there will be, “Joy in My house of prayer.”
Defining the House of Prayer
I will attempt to give some definition and expression to the House of Prayer. As I understand, there are two expressions of it, so here they are.
1. You are personally a House of Prayer. After you receive Jesus Christ as Savior, you become the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”
2. The Church is a House of Prayer. As we assemble together we are the corporate expression of prayer. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am in their midst.” Hebrews 10:24-25 puts it this way, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” 1 Peter 2:5 says it this way, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Bethel House of Prayer (BHOP)
That brings us to Bethel House of Prayer. BHOP is located right here in Platte City at 225 Main St. We have been here going on eight years as a church, giving expression to the House of Prayer that Jesus talks about and providing a place where people can come to experience that intimacy in prayer and worship. We simply call our place the “Prayer Room”. It has always been our intention to be a city prayer room, where people can come and rest in the presence of the Lord to pray, worship, read their Bibles and simply soak in a calming atmosphere of worship.
In addition, we also have corporate times of prayer for our City and County officials, as well as all schools and school officials. Jeremiah 29:7 and Psalm 24:1-2 are two our favorite scriptures to pray. There are also special times of prayer and fasting during the course of the year that will be posted on our website and we invite you to participate.
Michael Lazio, Senior pastor
Bethel House of Prayer