Where is the concept of the house of prayer found in the Bible?
The phrase “house of prayer” is from Isaiah 56:7, where it is used twice. “…These [foreigners] I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Jesus refers to this verse when casting the money changers from the temple, as recorded in Mark 11:17. “Then He taught, saying to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a den of thieves.’” (Transcribed also in Mt. 21:13 and Lk. 19:46.)
The heart of the house of prayer is perhaps best captured by David’s heart cry in Ps. 27:4: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
King David established the tabernacle of David. Referred to in many parts of the Bible, this house of prayer is best described in 1 Chronicles 16:1–37:
(1) So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it… (4) And [David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel… (37) So [David] left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required.
The best picture of what the house of prayer strives for can be found in the book of Revelation, in the many descriptions of the redeemed gathered before the throne of God, such as:
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:8–9)
Why are the concepts of beauty and enjoyable prayer important for the house of prayer?
The highest expressions of beauty are the beauty of God (see Ps. 27:4) and the beauty He imparts to the Bride of Christ (see Eph. 5:27; Ps. 149:4). These two realms of beauty provide a solid foundation and fuel for night-and-day prayer.
Fascination: The heart of man was designed to be fascinated with who God is and what He looks like—never to be dull and lifeless. Part of our journey is rediscovering how amazingly beautiful and fascinating He is.
Confidence: As we begin to understand how amazingly beautiful He is, we also begin to understand that He has passed His own beauty on to us. We stand confident in His love and grace, sustained in affection, not in shame or fleshly motivation.
Pleasure and joy are indispensable to the house of prayer. He assured us through the prophet Isaiah that He would give us joy in the place of prayer (see Isa. 56:7). The psalmist said, “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
In the house of prayer, we are operating under a paradigm of a God who is beautiful, fascinating, and full of delightful pleasures. These qualities are inexhaustible on this side of eternity and are a worthy and wise pursuit for the human heart.
How do music and singing fit into a house of prayer?
We are in the midst of a global worship movement, focused on prayer and intimacy with God. It is vital that prayer becomes enjoyable for every believer; it releases a spirit of devotion and fills the heart with worship.
Many who have begun houses of prayer will attest to the “rock-pile” prayer meetings, where one feels as though he or she is simply chipping away little by little at the resistance around them, with very little anointing and power. Fortunately, through God’s sovereign design, when worship is combined with intercession, a spiritual stirring occurs through the corporate body of believers.
Music awakens the heart to beauty. Since God is a musical being and we have been created in His very image, we have been made with a musical spirit. Almost every person finds solace, comfort, or expression in music. Again, this is God’s design. In heaven, music and verbal expression (prayer) are never separated from one another. We base most of our prayer meetings in the house of prayer upon this concept and value.
When King David instituted the tabernacle, he knew that worship and devotion were major components of day-and-night intercession. He must have possessed deep revelation of how heaven hosts a prayer meeting. We are seeking to emulate this heavenly model, found in Revelation 5:8. We call this particular model “harp and bowl intercession.”