“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Last week we witnessed Jesus’ zealous guardianship of His Father’s house. At the core of Jesus’ outburst ran His desire to see the temple become a “house of prayer” (Mark 11:17). Now that Jesus has completed His work on the cross and conquered the grave, God’s residence on earth has changed. He no longer dwells behind curtains or walls of stone. He lives within the hearts of His people.
Consider Paul’s depiction of the current church found in Ephesians 2:20-22. He describes membership into God’s household,
“. . . built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
When we contemplate the house of God, we often think of the many churches dotting the landscape of our cities and towns. In our mind’s eye, God’s house can take many shapes and forms, ranging from pristine, white buildings whose tall steeples sparkle in the sunlight to small meeting rooms in schools, theaters or restaurants that house a gathering of believers.
The truth is, God’s Word teaches that there is only one church. It finds its foundations in Jesus Christ, and is made up of those who have put their faith in Him. That church is described above in Ephesians 2:20-22. Jesus Himself was the first stone laid by God to set the foundation, and only in Him will the building join together and rise to become a holy temple. Do you see where you fit into the picture?
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22
You, dear one, have become a part of the temple that houses the living God. So is every other person who has placed their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Although God views each one of us as uniquely special, only in unity is God’s house made complete. Notice from our text in Ephesians that the building will rise to become God’s holy temple as it is joined together in Him (verse 21).
We will miss the glory of God’s house if we don’t gaze upon it as He does: one beautiful, glorious whole. And that whole, as Jesus taught in Mark 11:17, will be called a house of prayer.
Consider Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 6:9,
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. . .’”
The very first word Jesus uttered in prayer as He taught His disciples to pray was “our”. Think about that for a minute. The entire Lord’s Prayer, our model given by Jesus Himself to teach us how to petition God for His aid, is spoken in the first person plural. “Our Father… Give us today our daily bread. . . Forgive us our debts . . . lead us not into temptation . . . deliver us from the evil one.”
What a wonderful place for us to start as we ask God to teach us to pray. Jesus demonstrates through His words the posture we must have before God in prayer. We must share His zeal for His house, and pray with a heart of unity for His body.
Yes, God desires that we bring our personal petitions before Him, but He delights in answering the prayers of those who approach Him with a humble heart. As we become intercessors who seek to align our prayers with His perfect purpose, He begins to circumcise our hearts so that we take on the characteristics of His own. As we do, we unite our hearts with others who also seek His Kingdom, and our prayers echoing around the world will rise as a fragrant offering before the throne.
Only God's own Spirit can produce that kind of unity, and in the presence of His Spirit, we discover His power!