Many people, when they hear about the House of Prayer think: “oh it’s a house where people pray. It’s a place where people pray. Their core ministry is prayer, that’s their part to play in the Kingdom.” In many people’s minds prayer is to the House of Prayer like baptism is to the Baptists – the key part of the faith that they focus upon and which makes them distinct. But prayer on it’s own is not the heart of the House of Prayer. A place where people pray is not the core of what the House of Prayer is, it’s not its heart. The only reason it’s called a House of Prayer is because that’s it’s biblical name (see Isaiah 56:7 and Matthew 21:13) A better name for the House of Prayer would be A House of Admiration, A house of encounter, or as Bob Hartley calls it, A Marveling House. The core heart of the House of Prayer is the experiential knowledge of God. The House of Prayer is all about gazing upon the beauty of the Lord until we are so addicted to that activity that it becomes a calling.
There are two women in the Bible whose lives encapsulate the heart of the House of Prayer. The first is the prophetess Anna (see Luke 2:36-38). After her husband died at a young age, she gave her life to prayer and worship in the temple for decades. She never left the place of ministering before the Lord it says. Yet she is known as one of the very few who recognized Jesus’ birth for what it was. She saw what no one else saw because she was close to God’s heart in the place of prayer.
The second is Mary of Bethany. When the culture dictated that she should be in the kitchen helping her sister prepare food she was found sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His words (see Luke 10). Then, later she took a jar of pure spikenard (perfume), worth a year’s wages and anointed His feet. Even the disciples in the room where this took place mocked her and said, “What a waste! We should have sold this perfume and given the money to the poor.” But Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you but me you will not always have.” (see John 12)
The core heart of the House of Prayer is hours spent at the feet of Jesus gazing (reading, meditating, worshipping, proclaiming, talking to Him) upon Him until His beauty and worth so captivates our heart that we will waste our lives for Him. And then? The deepest expression of intercession is this cry: “My life for his/her life.” It is to stand between a person, nation or issue and God and say, “God take my life for this person’s life.” That’s what Jesus did on the cross and He bids us come and stand with Him (see Philippians 3:10). The only way you can do that is when you draw so close to the heart of God that your heart moves in rhythm with His, when His thoughts are your thoughts and His emotions are your emotions. Oh what a glorious calling intercession is – to lend your very life to the cry of Jesus’ heart for people – “Oh Father, I desire that they would be with me” (John 17:24).
That’s the core of the House of Prayer. It is to become so captivated with who God is, so obsessed that we waste everything for Him from a place of great joy and fiery passionate love and then out into the world He will send us to pray without ceasing by laying down our lives so that others may live.
Joel Ratcliffe, April 15, 2018