FAQs and Controversies

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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 Psalm 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:

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it . . . And he [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 . . . So he [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. (1 Chr. 1, 4, 37)

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)