by Pastor Rob Stevenson (2013)
Are you giving it the priority it needs? When did it stop becoming a priority in the Temple?
Matthew 21:12-14 (NIV) Jesus is at the Temple
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
It probably started with something small, or even small and helpful. Two people come to the temple. One has money and no sacrifice. Another has two sacrifices. They make a deal and both go into the Temple happy. From there it escalated. Naturally, my questions center around these two initial persons. One had no sacrifice, but came anyway. Is that how one goes to church? On the one hand, you say ‘yes’. Jesus turns no one away. On the other hand, you can say ‘no’. With nothing to offer and nothing to give, your gratitude seems counterfeit. The other had twice what he needed, and for what purpose? His intent seems to carry an ulterior motive. He could have been laden with guilt, and wanted to offer twice the sacrifices. However, his greed dominated. Hmmm. Maybe that was why he needed extra sacrifices.
Our lives reflect similar changes. Our intentions stay high, but the weak flesh doesn’t act so weak many times. Subtle changes occur that direct us away from a well-intentioned prayer life. Extra work hours throw us off-schedule, for instance. When I was in the Navy, abnormal work hours became the norm. Bev and I would get into a habit of praying together each night, but then off to another base I would go, or home late from a busy day. Then, the schedule goes awry. Children can do that, too. It doesn’t have to be much. A touch of diarrhea or a loose cockroach in the house. (Well, I can’t blame the kids for that one. I loosed the cockroach in the house, but that is another story.) We could have been well on the way to great prayer if not for the washing machine overflowing. These are small things, but they add on to each other, and they take us away from prayer.
What can we do? First, give prayer the priority it deserves. Prayer is not just a nice thing to do. Prayer is communication with the God of Creation. That can’t be placed into second place. Second, which goes along with the priority, is that Jesus desires it. His Temple, where the Holy Spirit resides, is you. He despises a dwelling place that contains thievery, cheating, deceit, and an uncaring attitude. Third, you need prayer. The Lord enjoys it, but you need it. Your desires follow your attentions. You start praying regularly, and you will start enjoying what it does to your life. Get started.