By John J. Blanchard
March 16, 2013
Good morning, brethren. The title of this sermon is “When We Are Asked to Pray.” As Christians, often we are asked to pray for each other and for other people. It seems like today there is so much to pray about. So many people have needs, so many people have very serious afflictions, and so many people are going through difficult and trying circumstances that hardly a day goes by that somebody doesn’t ask me or you or whomever to pray for them. That’s a good thing. It’s good that we are seeking each other’s prayers, but we all want our prayers to be effective. We want them to be effective when we are praying for the needs of other people, and we want them to be effective when we pray for our own needs.
We are told something interesting about prayer in James chapter 5. That will be our first Scripture today. The opening Scripture is in James. If you would, turn to James, the fifth chapter. James 5, verse 16 where we are told: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Of course, that means a righteous human being—a righteous man or woman. We are told to confess our sins, so to speak. We confess our trespasses. If we have hurt anybody’s feelings or if we have done something wrong toward someone, it says confess those things, get them off our chest, and pray for one another. They go together. It also says, that we may be healed. That’s often what we are praying for. Often we pray for other people to be healed. We want their afflictions to be lifted, and we are told the effective fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.
There is a lot in that one Scripture. We all want to be righteous, yet we all know we aren’t. We all want to not offend each other, but we know we do. We all have sins and trespasses. We want other people to be healed. We want our own selves to be healed when we are sick. If we have a dire situation going, we want it relieved. We want God to hear our prayers. But there is a lot in that Scripture.
If we turn to I Thessalonians chapter 5, Paul who understood a lot about prayer, says this about prayer. We are starting in I Thessalonians 5, verse 14: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing…”
We are told to deal with our problems and our difficulties with other people and then rejoice that we are working on those things and then pray without ceasing.
Continuing in I Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 18: “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
Once again we see there’s a lot in these Scriptures. Paul understood the effective prayer, and he understood that it goes with taking care of our issues. Then he says, give thanks while you pray and pray without ceasing for each other: the fainthearted, the weak, and those who are having difficult times.
Paul, the gentleman that he was and the experiences that he had, certainly understood prayer very intimately. His knowledge and his understanding were incredibly deep.
Let’s turn to the Book of Colossians. We will be reading in Colossians 1, verse 3 where Paul says: “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…”
He didn’t stop praying for the brethren.
Verse 4: “…since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth…”
He says, I am praying for you because you have accepted the truth, you are growing in love, and I will not stop praying for you to continue to bear fruit in the truth.
Continuing in verse 7 of Colossians 1: “…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”
Paul was hearing about the love in this congregation and how they wanted to do what was right. They loved the truth and wanted to bear fruit.
He continues in verse 9: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
He says, I pray for you without ceasing that you may continue to bear fruit and that you grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Then apply it in your lives. Paul prayed that others would gain understanding and that they would gain knowledge and learn how to apply it in their lives. Paul learned this from the other apostles, of course. They came on the scene before him and studied and learned at Jesus’ feet for three and a half years, but Paul also had intimate relations with Jesus Christ in the teaching realm and learned a lot. Go back to Galatians where there is an interesting set of Scriptures.
Turn to Galatians chapter 1, verse 11 where Paul is talking about his call into the ministry for the saints. Galatians 1, verse 11: “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.”
He says, the things I am teaching you aren’t just my opinions.
Verse 12: “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
He says, the things I am sharing with you, I got mainly through inspiration from Jesus Christ.
Continuing in Galatians 1, verse 13: “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”
Some have thought that he went off into the desert, so to speak, and learned from Jesus Christ himself and had revelations from Christ that showed him the error of his ways and how to change and become truly Christian. Then he goes on to write in all these other epistles to pray without ceasing for the brethren and encourages them to pray for each other. He learned from Jesus Christ, just as the other apostles did.
ASK IN CHRIST’S NAME
We are also taught by Jesus Christ Himself in John 14 that we need to ask for things in Jesus Christ’s name. Go back to the gospel of John chapter 14, verse 12 where Christ says this: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
He says, ask whatever you need in My name, and I will hear that prayer and do it. However, continue in verse 15: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
He says, if you love Me, you must keep My commandments, and then I can pray for you as the Helper. He says, I will come and dwell in you. The Spirit of truth will come and dwell in actual human beings! But this also means there are additional requirements. When just asking for something in God’s name, we have to be attempting to keep the commandments which is demonstrating love for Jesus Christ. We have to let that Spirit within us grow and guide us in all things, and He will pray for us. When we pray, He also as the Spirit within us, prays for us. It is an amazing concept.
You can see that we just don’t ask in His name when we have Him dwelling in us. We have to be loving Him. We show that love by keeping the commandments, so there are requirements that one must observe in order to properly pray even in Christ’s name. He connected all these Scriptures together.
When you examine the situation, there is a lot to prayer then. There’s a lot to prayer. You just don’t get on your knees and pray, or pray somewhere. There can be an emergency situation. That is true. But there is a lot to properly praying. If we have to love God by keeping His commandments, we have to be doing that beforehand. This is something that is a requirement before we beseech God in prayer.
BE RECONCILED BEFORE WE PRAY
Let’s look at a few Scriptures in Matthew. We are going back to Matthew chapter 5 to start here. Christ tells us, before you come to the altar, you have to do a few things. Matthew 5, verse 21: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
Some versions don’t even have “without a cause.” Don’t be angry or stay angry with your brother.
Continuing in verse 22: “And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.”
This is talking about calling your brother names, fool, or whatever.
Verse 22: “But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
He says, you can’t just go on having these horrible disputes with your brethren or your family.
He says in verse 23: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”
We know there is such a thing as debtor’s prison or prisons in actual physical reality. But there is also this spiritual concept of one being turned over to Satan and one getting trials and tribulations and troubles, because we are told as we judge others, so we will be judged. Here Christ says, don’t even bring Me a gift to My altar—an offering—if you know you have a problem with a brother in the faith or a brother or sister in actual life. You have to deal with these things, and then come and offer your gift.
We can extend that concept with prayer because when we come before Jesus Christ as our High Priest, it is like we are going before the altar. When we are praying for someone else, we are praying that they receive a gift, but if we have issues that are not reconciled, God says, don’t even do this until you straighten these other things out in your life.
Turn to Matthew chapter 18. We are not going to read the whole set of Scriptures about how to resolve differences with your brother, but I want to focus on Matthew chapter 18, verses 6-8. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Christ is saying, whoever is causing offenses, it would be better if you had a millstone around your neck. In this case he is talking about children, but you will see He goes right on to our brethren. He says, it would better if you had a millstone around your neck. We could explain everything that is involved there, but that’s much more than just a physical stone put around your neck and then being thrown into the water. We are talking about being cast out into the world—into the sea—and suffer for a while, so hopefully you would learn your lesson.
Continuing in verse 7: “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
Christ says, I know there will be offenses between you. It has to happen. But woe to the person who causes those offenses.
Continuing in verse 8 of Matthew 18: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.”
He goes on to explain this, and then He talks more in Matthew 18 about how to resolve conflicts with our brethren, with our family, and with various people. He says, take care of these things lest we be judged. That is a serious admonition. When you couple it with coming before Him in prayer, you know we have to do these things: loving our fellow man, loving each other, and loving Him before He wants us to actually come and ask for things in His name.
WE ARE FORGIVEN AS WE FORGIVE
Back up to Matthew chapter 6. We are just going to read a portion of the model prayer. Go back to Matthew chapter 6. This is a little bit of the model prayer and the conclusion to the matter. Christ says this starting in Matthew 6, verse 12. Pray this way: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
He said we actually need to pray that we be forgiven as we forgive others, so if we have a problem forgiving others and letting go of issues, we are in essence tying God’s hands as far as answering our own prayers. We can ask in His name, but we are not acting like Jesus Christ. Therefore, He says, I won’t forgive you.
Verse 13 of Matthew 6: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
We see the connection here. If we don’t forgive the debts of others so that we can be forgiven, we can be led into the grasp of the evil one for a time, so that we learn to be merciful and kind.
He concludes the matter here in verses 14 and 15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
It’s a big issue. It is very important in the life of a Christian to deal with these matters, so that we can have our prayers answered. Then we can receive forgiveness, and others can receive healing and help in time of need. We want our prayers to be heard.
Now I want to discuss for the rest of the sermon a very serious Christian obligation in order to have our prayers heard. Before praying for others, we must cleanse ourselves. That is the gist of what we have been reading. We are going to focus on this idea of cleansing ourselves, and we must do it in two ways.
CHRIST WILL MAKE US CLEAN
None of us is righteous. The effective prayer of a righteous person avails much, but we all need Christ’s blood because none of us are truly righteous. Let’s go to Hebrews and read a little bit about what our High Priest does for us. Once again Paul is writing about very deep things here. Hebrews 9, verse 11: “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Christ came with His own tabernacle—His own altar for us. He was the sacrifice. He made it possible for us to enter. We could read more about that in Hebrews. He made it possible for us to enter into the high place and have Him intercede for us.
Continuing in verse 12 of Hebrews 9: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Christ’s blood helps us when we have sinned. When we have fallen, we go before Him before the altar and the tabernacle, and we say to the Father, would You please accept Christ’s blood for our sin. This is possible because He died as our Passover. We are coming up to Passover in a week, so this is very important for us to think about.
Let’s go to I Corinthians chapter 5, verse 7: “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
EXAMINE OUR LIVES, REPENT, AND ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
Here we see we are not to keep the Passover with sin in our lives, which is the leaven, nor with something that is untrue. We need good doctrines, pure doctrines, and pure teachings. We are getting this idea that Jesus Christ is our Passover, and by His shed blood our sins are forgiven. We have a part to play in this whole process. That’s where we come to the second aspect of cleansing ourselves. It is our personal obligation to examine ourselves, to repent, and then go to our Savior Jesus Christ and ask for forgiveness and for the covering of His blood. That is the process of cleansing.
Let’s turn now to I Corinthians chapter 11, which we traditionally read at the Passover season. I Corinthians 11, verse 27: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”
There we see it. If we want to escape judgment ourselves and if we want to ask God to successfully hear our prayers so that we are healed and for others to be healed, we have to examine ourselves. We need to deal with the issues in our lives. It’s as simple as that. That is our obligation as Christians.
Now let’s thread together God’s thoughts in His word about cleansing and what we are doing and who we are. First I want to start in the gospel of John chapter 2. Christ tells us something very important, and then we are going to tie it back with more thoughts from Paul that are very deep. They are very, very deep indeed but essential for Christians to learn and grow from. We need that knowledge and that understanding.
Let’s go to John chapter 2 and see what Christ says about Himself. John chapter 2, and I am starting in verse 13: “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’ So the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”
We can see He was speaking of His body, and it goes on to say in verse 22: “Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”
When Christ’s body gave up life and was resurrected three days later, the brethren got confirmation that His body composed the temple at that time. But there was still significance to the physical temple, and He did not want that defiled by business transactions and corruption. He said, don’t do this in My Father’s temple, and He said, I am now going to be the temple of God. We know He is not corrupt, but there are some interesting things about the temple and Jesus Christ.
If He wants the temple—the physical building—so clean that He would drive out people with a whip of cords and tell them to stop doing these things inside a physical building, how important do you think it is for Him to have a spiritual temple that is clean without corruption and without sin? If He would go through all of that in a physical building, how important do you think the spiritual body of Christ is? Now you know where I am going with this. The Church is the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12 plainly tells us that.
THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST
I Corinthians chapter 12, and I am going to start reading in verse 12. We won’t read the whole thing about the body and all the various parts. Starting in I Corinthians 12, verse 12: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
That is the Spirit that Christ said would come into you and dwell. We have all been baptized into that one Spirit. Verse 14 of I Corinthians 12 says: “For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
That’s where we get the concept that we are all part of the body of Christ.
Drop down to verse 27 of I Corinthians 12: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”
Together the Church forms the body of Christ. Individually we are part of that body. It is very important for Jesus Christ to dwell in a clean body. The body of Christ is the temple of God. He was the temple when He walked upon the earth. Now when He dwells in human beings, He is dwelling in a temple once again.
Turn to Hebrews chapter 3. We could turn to many scriptures to prove this, but we will just do a few. Hebrews chapter 3, verse 1: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling consider the apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
The Church—the collective body of Christ made up of individual members—is Christ’s house. That is His temple.
Turn back to Ephesians chapter 2 for another Scripture to confirm this. I am starting in Ephesians 2, verse 19: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
We are a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Jesus Christ is dwelling in His temple, in His house, in the body of Christ, and in each member of that body. Now we can see why He says, pray in My name, but you must love Me and keep My commandments. You must deal with offenses. You must deal with your sins. It is because His house must be a very clean place. It is sanctified. Each of us is a mini temple responsible for our portion of the temple and the temple that we individually are.
Turn to I Corinthians chapter 3. We are going to just read one Scripture there. We often read the whole set of I Corinthians 3 to talk about how the temple is built, but we just saw a reference to the prophets. Here we go in I Corinthians chapter 3, verse 16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
It is undeniable that each of us individually is a temple for Jesus Christ to dwell in. Collectively the Church—the body of Christ—is a larger temple, a house for God, where He should be dwelling. But He says if we defile it and if we don’t take care of the sins and the offenses within our individual temple, we risk destruction, and the body of Christ likewise. The whole Church can go through serious trials and difficulties if there is unrepentant sin and if people are not trying to cleanse this house.
We saw that sins and offenses between brethren have to be dealt with before Passover for the whole system to work and for prayers to be answered. Now we are tying in this idea of a clean house for God to dwell in, so we can ask things in His name. Then we can have access to the Father in heaven through Him.
I Peter chapter 2 talks about individual people as the stones in that temple. Go to I Peter chapter 2. We will begin in verse 1 where he starts talking about getting your sins first. I Peter chapter 2, verse 1: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’”
Each individual mini temple that is a person is being built into a larger spiritual house for Jesus Christ to dwell in, but we have to lay aside all of our sins and all these weights. Continuing on here in verse 7 we can get the picture that it is a serious matter. We have to deal with these things.
I Peter 2, verse 7: “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
We who have obtained mercy must learn to forgive others, so we can continue to be forgiven and have our prayers heard. Otherwise, we can stumble over the body of Christ, as we saw in I Corinthians 11, and we can stumble over the word of God. We can find ourselves in deep trouble. God wants to dwell in a place where there is peace, where we are getting along, and where we are dealing with our sins and our problems. We certainly would not want Christ on the outside of us, would we? Nor would we want Him on the outside of the Church, but that’s exactly what has happened here at the end of the age.
If we go to Revelation chapter 3 and we look at the condition of the Laodicean era of the Church, we can see the situation we are in is quite serious at this time. In Revelation chapter 3 I will read the whole set of Scriptures pertaining to the Laodicean era.
Revelation 3, verse 14: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”’”
This means, I am going to send you out from Me. The reason we are the body of Christ is that’s where Christ dwells. If He pushes us out, we are in deep trouble!
Verse 17 of Revelation 3: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The Spirit of God, that Spirit of truth, that is supposed to dwell in each of us and in the body of Christ collectively, is knocking on our door at the end of the age. He says, I had to vomit you out. I had to allow this tremendous breakdown in the Church and the problems that we are individually facing to get so bad that you would come to Me. Once again, ask for clean garments and good food, good doctrine, put together good works in your life, and have a forgiving attitude. These are all the things we just talked about. Then I can in turn forgive you and cleanse you. Then I can make My house once again a beautiful clean dwelling place for Me.
A PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH
As each of us falls in line and does that, our prayers will be answered. Our afflictions will be lifted. Those who come to us for prayer will also have our prayers answered on their behalf. That’s one of the great purposes of the Church—the temple.
In order to understand this, we need to go back to the Old Testament and read about the temple. We need to compare it to what Christ is doing in His Church today, or should be doing in each of us individually and all of us collectively. I want to go back to II Chronicles chapter 6. It is crucial that we understand what went on in that original temple where Christ dwelt as the Shekinah glory over the mercy seat where there was an altar.
Let’s go to II Chronicles chapter 6. We are going to read fairly extensively here and comment at the end. It’s pretty much self-explanatory, but I want to start with setting the stage of what Solomon was about to do at the dedication of the temple.
II Chronicles 6, beginning in verse 1: “Then Solomon spoke: ‘The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.’ Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. And he said: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, “Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.”’ Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’ So the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke, and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised; and I have built the temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel. And there I have put the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord which He made with the children of Israel.”
That sets the stage for Solomon’s prayer to dedicate this house for God.
We begin in II Chronicles 6, verse 12: “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands…”
He has come before the altar.
Continue reading II Chronicles 6:13-42.
That is Solomon’s prayer when he was getting ready to dedicate the house that he had built for Jesus Christ’s Spirit to dwell in. Sometime when you have the opportunity, read that again. In there you will see that we are to pray individually, we are to pray collectively, and we are to pray for the world. As the temple of God, any of us should be able to go to another member of that temple, because they are also a mini temple, and ask for prayers on their behalf. Anyone in the world who is suffering should be able to come to anybody in God’s Church or God’s Church together and ask for prayers. If they are of the right mind and they are sorrowful for what they have done wrong, we need to pray for them and ask that their afflictions and their diseases be lifted. If we are a clean temple and we have dealt with our issues with our sins and offenses between each other and we have tried to clean up our individual lives and the lives of the Church as the body of Christ, those prayers will be heard.
It is a blessing for the entire world that there is a temple of Jesus Christ on this earth where He dwells. It is a tremendous privilege to have Him dwelling in any one of us, but it comes with serious obligations to keep our homes clean. Those are our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. Then Jesus Christ as the word of truth can dwell there. Then we can confidently go to the Father in His name because He dwells in us and ask that the diseases and the afflictions of each other, of our friends and neighbors, of our families, and indeed anyone in the world can be removed. We can pray for them with confidence knowing God will hear and answer that prayer.