House of Prayer or Den of Robbers?

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. . . .
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
(Mark 11:11, 15-17)

All four of the gospel writers record this unusual event in the life of Jesus. That certainly gives it additional significance. Most who approach this text, however, focus on what was happening in the Temple. Jesus was focusing more on what was not happening. The place that was to be a house of prayer had become instead a place for commerce and busy activity. That’s why He quoted the Old Testament scripture: Isaiah 56:7, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
God had intended the Temple to be the centerpiece, a huge picture of how He dealt with mankind on earth. It was to be a place of prayer for all people. As Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chronicles 6-7), his prayer and God’s response clearly demonstrated that God was showcasing prayer in this place. And prayer, not just for Israel . . . but for all nations!
The Jews of Jesus’ day had turned the Temple into a place of business and human affairs. It became all about them instead of God. Jesus walked into the horizontal dealings going on and literally upended things. His actions scream: “Look up! Go vertical! It’s time to pray!”
It’s still the passion of His life. He always has and always will want a place to meet with His people. But a house of prayer is no longer a building, but a people. Read Acts 2: 1-4 where God dedicated a new temple as His Spirit hovered over the heads of the believers. From this point on, God is still calling us to look up and go vertical! The busyness of life should not usurp our First Love . . . our relationship with our Creator!

Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.

Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?

Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.

Ask: Lord, forgive me of my prayerlessness. And when I do pray, I so often make it about me. It’s so easy for me to stay on a horizontal plane, even in my prayers. Help me to look up and see You. Help me to understand more of what it means to be a house of prayer. Show me how to pray without ceasing in a way that pleases You and releases Your power to accomplish Your purpose. Your Kingdom come, Father! Today and forever!


  • Make a list of things that distract or keep you from prayer. Change at least one of those things over the next twenty-four hours.
  • Find an hour or more when you can pray without ceasing. Perhaps you will need to get up earlier or stay up later, or give up a meal.
  • Consider what your life, family and ministry would look like if you (and perhaps your entire household) were to become a house of prayer for all nations. What would change about you personally and about the life you lead? Share your desire to be a person of prayer with one other person and have him or her hold you accountable to this vertical desire.

Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.