“My house will be called a house of prayer...” Matthew 21:13a NIV
We never seem to get it right. We go from one extreme to another. We jump on the most popular bandwagon and then when that disappoints us, we look for the next one to come along, hoping it will meet our needs. We want a theology that fits us rather than molding ourselves to God's call on our lives.
The more I read Scripture, the more I see God moving in my life—pushing me in a direction. I sometimes put my feet down and try to keep from going – “If you want me to do this, you had better drag me in kicking and screaming all the way,” I tell God. My problem is God doesn't mind pulling me along, kicking and screaming all the way. God has put up with enough 3-year olds having temper tantrums that mine doesn't bother at all.
Where am I going with this? Over the past few months my thoughts have been on prayer. I have read several books on prayer and have felt a need to reconnect with prayer. Now, it is not as if I have stopped praying. I still pray. No, that is not it. It is that God has been inviting me to see prayer through a different lens – one of conversation rather than demands. One of give and take, sharing and caring, laughing and crying rather than my listing a bunch of needs and getting on with my business.
As you know, I like cartoons. One I remember is a pastor in his office on his knees in prayer. The church secretary opens the door and the caption reads: “Oh good, you're not busy.” I wonder if that is how many of us view prayer? I recall a pastor friend who would put a piece of paper under the door of his office – this was a “warning”: I am busy, praying, do not disturb.
Jesus, as he cleansed the Temple, made the statement that is highlighted at the beginning of this column. Above all else, his house was to be a “house of prayer.” A. place where conversations with God could be held. A place where people could feel comfortable praying. A place where worship and prayer were a part of daily living and life. A place known for prayer.|
Paul writes to Timothy, “The first thing I want you to do is pray” (I Tim 2:1 The Message). I am asking myself, “Is prayer the first thing I do?” If not, why not? Should not prayer be the cornerstone of all that we do and of all that we are in Christ? Prayer as a daily part of life and as a powerful part of our worship?
Thus, I am challenging us to designate 2009 as a year of prayer for First Baptist here in Mountlake Terrace. May this be a year when we seek God's direction for our work and ministry. May we spend this year in concentrated prayer for our community, our neighbors, our nation and world – God's community, neighbors, nation and world. A year when we designate special times for prayer and when we look at new ways to pray – alone and in worship.
Now I am not saying that we are not already a people of prayer. We are. I feel your prayers daily and know that there are many prayer warriors out there. But no matter how good we are, cannot we become better? No matter how much we pray, cannot we discover God moving in new and more challenging ways in our lives? Are we perfect in our prayer life? Join with me in this new year to become a person, a people committed to “his house being a house of prayer for all peoples.” Who knows? We may turn the world upside down again!