House of Prayer…or Den of Thieves?

Trip to CA July 2009 040Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. . . .

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:11, 15-17)

All four of the gospel writers record this unusual event in the life of Jesus. That certainly gives it additional significance. Most who approach this text, however, focus on what was happening in the Temple. Jesus was focusing more on what was not happening. The place that was to be a house of prayer had become instead a place for commerce and busy activity. That’s why He quoted the Old Testament scripture: Isaiah 56:7, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

God had intended the Temple to be the centerpiece, a huge picture of how He dealt with mankind on earth. It was to be a place of prayer for all people. As Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chronicles 6-7), his prayer and God’s response clearly demonstrated that God was showcasing prayer in this place. And prayer, not just for Israel . . . but for all nations!

The Jews of Jesus’ day had turned the Temple into a place of business and human affairs. It became all about them instead of God. Jesus walked into the horizontal dealings going on and literally upended things. His actions scream: “Look up! Go vertical! It’s time to pray!”

It’s still the passion of His life. He always has and always will want a place to meet with His people. But a house of prayer is no longer a building, but a people. Read Acts 2: 1-4 where God dedicated a new temple as His Spirit hovered over the heads of the believers. From this point on, God is still calling us to look up and go vertical! The busyness of life should not usurp our First Love . . . our relationship with our Creator!

Lord, forgive me of my prayerlessness. And when I do pray, I so often make it about me. It’s so easy for me to stay on a horizontal plane, even in my prayers. Help me to look up and see You. Help me to understand more of what it means to be a house of prayer. Show me how to pray without ceasing in a way that pleases You and releases Your power to accomplish Your purpose. Your Kingdom come, Father! Today and forever!


–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.


Prayer Points

Praise God for seeking and saving the lost. Give thanks that Jesus is “the good shepherd [who] lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). Confess those instances and ways in which you ignore the voice of your Shepherd. Commit yourself to learning to be content whatever the circumstances (Phil.4:11). Ask God to give you the fullness of life which comes with following the Savior.

Pray for those who serve in law enforcement, that the stress of their jobs will not be too much for them to bear. Ask God to give them special strength to do their jobs well.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

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