Once or twice each week, I go to Church, and into the Prayer Room, to spend time alone with God. Sometimes, I stay there for an hour. At other times, I may stay for three or four hours. It may be during the day time, or it may be at night, even in the wee hours. When I go to the Prayer Room, it is because I want to conduct serious business with God. That is one of my most valuable and intense prayer times.
In my fifty-nine years, I have spent literally thousands of sacred hours alone in Church houses - praying, reading my Bible, and seeking the will of God. And I will confide to you that the Prayer Room is the most luxurious amenity in my life. There is no place on earth more comforting or more sacred than the place where I get alone with God in prayer. I would rather have a Prayer Room than a luxury car, an RV, a yacht, or anything else I can think of.
Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when He said,
A Church is not supposed to be merely an assembly hall where lectures are given. One large Church where I served on staff as a young man had as its motto, "Where People Meet God." If people do not meet God at Church, then what is Church for?
Simeon and Anna were in the Temple the day that Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus to be dedicated. But that was no coincidence. Simeon and Anna were regulars in the Temple. Anna "was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day," Luke 2:37.
If you make a habit of seeking God regularly, it is certain that the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His Temple.
King David also had a deep love for the house of God. He said, "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand [elsewhere]." Psalms 84:10. In the great crises of his life, David ran to the house of God for refuge.
In the beginning, Churches were not Rock-and-Roll Concert venues. They were not Drama Theaters. They were not basketball courts. They were not community centers, soup kitchens, or recreation centers.
The house of God was, and should be, a holy, sacred, sanctified, consecrated house where people can always go to pray. Today's Churches are often multi-purpose, multi-cultural activity centers. In many cases, they are used more as gymnasiums for youth to hang out, or cafeterias for seniors to have pot-luck dinners, or sound stages for musicians to jam in, than for sacred purposes.
The sad reality is that many Churches are so much like Grand Central Station with activities, that it would be almost impossible to find a quiet, undisturbed place to pray. Why do we feel that it is so important to conduct our social activities in the Church building, yet we seldom think to use it for the far-more-important, divinely-ordained purpose for the house of God?
From the beginning, the Church was NOT such a recreational center. People came to the house of God to spend holy, consecrated time in the presence of God. Today, if you go to a typical Church house to pray, you may find that there is no privacy or no sanctity whatsoever. The Church house has been hijacked for secular purposes. We have forgotten that the most important furnishings in any Church are the ALTAR and the PULPIT.
That kind of invasion of the holy place was the cause of Jesus' outrage in John 2:14-16:
he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep,
and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money,
and overthrew the tables; And said unto them
that sold doves, Take these things hence;
make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."
More details of that scenario are recorded in Matthew 21:12-14:
that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables
of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written,
My house shall be called the house of prayer;
but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple;
and he healed them."
The Church must be first and foremostly a house of prayer.
Prayer has always been the precedent and prelude to every spiritual revival throughout the ages. When the Holy Ghost first began to fall in America, in 1901, it began at a small Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, organized by Charles Parham. For days, his students met together in Chapel for intercessory prayer, until on New Year's Eve, 1901, the Spirit came upon them, and several began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.
When the epic revival began in Los Angeles, at the Azusa Street Mission, pastored by William Seymour - that sweeping revival was preceded by weeks and months of intense prayer meetings by the people of that community. That revival in 1906 radically affected not only Los Angeles, but has also, since that time, spread literally to every nation on earth.
Revival does not come by basketball tournaments, or outdoor concerts, or free hot dogs. Revival comes by prayer. And that is true of both personal revival and Church-wide revival.
When we restore the priority of prayer in our lives, miracles will begin happening. Your life has never been so rich as when you regularly and habitually enter into the house of God to pray.
"They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint," Isaiah 40:31.
The next time you sense your need to get alone with God, go to the house of God, and pray.
You may find that it is your most cherished time of all. You may find that you want to make a habit of it.