*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest Author: Nic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***
…their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer….
Why does God mention sacrifices in the context of establishing a house of prayer? First, burnt offerings and sacrifices were a form of worship in the Old Testament. I believe that worship is linked in this passage to God’s mission to establish prayer because prayer and worship are inseparable…sometimes identical. We cannot truly pray without worshiping, and we cannot truly worship without praying. Therefore prayer is worship.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He begun: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed (greatly revered) be your name” and ended: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever”! The fact that Jesus taught His disciples to pray like this, I believe reveals the fact that in Jesus’ mind the primary purpose of prayer was worship. When we come together in church and sing worship songs together, we are praying “hallowed be your name”! In heaven, we will not pray for the other things that Jesus taught His disciples to pray because in heaven God’s kingdom and will is always done, there will be no need for bread, no temptation, no sin…only worship. Therefore all prayer in heaven will be worship. But now on earth, the primary goal of prayer must still be worship.
Secondly, this passage points towards the One Sacrifice that would be able to turn God’s enemies into His friends and worshipers. The writer to the Hebrews in Chapter 10 tells us more…
…when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me…
Behold, I have come to do your will, O God…’
The writer goes on:
And by that will we have been sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all.
What was the will (desire) of God’s heart? It was to crush and kill Jesus so that we could offer His body on God’s altar as a payment for our sin and in doing so be restored to God (and completely washed clean from that which separated us from God). Why? The writer continues…
…since we have confidence to enter the holy places
by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain,
that is, through his flesh,
and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near…
Since we can enter into His company, let us enter in! The Father’s mission to establish the prayers of the saints cost Him His Son, so that you and I could draw near…in prayer, in worship.
Father, thank You for giving Your Son, Your perfect and righteous Son, to bring me into Your house of prayer! Thank You for making a way through which I can draw near! We will not hold back because of guilt or anything else! We will draw near!