*** 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. ***
…these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.
Isaiah 56:7 (Italics added)
While reading this passage last year, a thought struck me in a way that I can only describe as revelation. The thought was: “GOD IS DOING THIS”! When I looked at this passage, what jumped out at me was the primary influence of God toward establishing a people of prayer: “…these I will bring”. Prayer starts profoundly with God! It is His idea, and to establish it, His mission.
This passage is written by Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet writing many years before Christ, hence the references to now obsolete burnt offerings and sacrifices. Why is this passage then relevant to us? Well we gain insight into God’s plan for His people today because Isaiah, through God’s Spirit, is writing prophetically, i.e. about the future. Here in this passage, God is pulling back the curtain on His plans and heart’s desires for mankind, for His people. He is declaring His intentions for His people and those that will become His people, both from the nation of Israel and from every nation and language from the whole earth (the Gentiles).
I already knew theologically that the driving force behind prayer is primarily God. But in the Christian culture that I am a part of, so much emphasis is on us to “perform” through prayer (whether it be in keeping up daily prayer in our personal lives or in attending corporate prayer meetings). Even the fact that prayer is something that we have to “do” can fool us into thinking that it is “our thing”. I realized God’s role in our prayer was a bit fuzzy in my mind. But in this passage, God’s role became clear again. He is doing this!
We are “brought ones”, He is the “Bringer”. We are those He has chosen and gathered and is teaching and empowering to pray! This should free us from performance prayers and rid us of disabling guilt (Funny that the guilt for not praying comes most strongly to our minds the moment we start praying, paralyzing our faith and pushing us away from God!). Instead, prayer should be like paddling into a mighty wave that God has formed behind us and then effortlessly riding the impetus of His heart into heavenly victories and unimaginable encounters with our Friend.
Father, bring us in line with Your plans. Bring us into the desires that burn in Your heart for our lives. Father, bring us into prayer, bring us into Your joy and Your presence, every day and forever. For we long to be brought by You.