A House of Prayer for All Nations

From Pastor Chris

God is calling us to be A House of Prayer for All Nations. What exactly does that mean? The phrase occurs in Isaiah 56:7–“for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples [nations].” The context gives us three beautiful descriptions of God’s house of prayer:

A house of prayer for all who love God’s name

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD…” (Isaiah 56:6)

When God called Moses at the burning bush, he revealed his name: “I AM WHO I AM,” that is, “Yahweh” (Exodus 3:14-15). Beginning with his mighty deeds in the exodus, God’s faithful commitment to his people has the goal “that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). God’s name is his identity, character, reputation, and renown. He encapsulated this to Moses when he declared: “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). Israel would incorporate this proclamation of God’s character into many of their songs of worship.

The Old Testament bursts with references to God’s passion for his name to be known and worshipped. He rescues, disciplines, redeems, and shepherds his people for his name’s sake. More than that, when God’s temple is built, Solomon anticipates a time when foreigners will come from far countries to worship Yahweh “for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm)” (1 Kings 8:41–42). In Isaiah 56, God affirms that all who love God’s name are welcome in his house of prayer.

This means that God’s character and renown must be the highest priority of our worship and prayers. As Jesus taught us, we center our prayers on the desire that “your name be honored as holy” (Matthew 6:9, CSB). Our God is a big God, and we long for God’s faithfulness, God’s love, God’s power, and God’s compassion to be on display in his house of prayer.

A house of prayer for all who center their lives on him

“…everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant…” (Isaiah 56:6)

God gave his people the Sabbath command so that, in ceasing from work one day a week, we might remember that God runs the world, not us. The point of the day is to rest from labor, to contemplate God’s splendor, and to enjoy his gifts. In the New Testament, Jesus challenged the legalism religious leaders had built up around the Sabbath and invites all to find their rest by trusting in him (Matthew 11:25-12:14). Paul radically asserts that one day is as good as another for practicing this rest (Romans 14:5-6).

The point of practicing Sabbath rest is to keep God at the center of our calendars, finances, and priorities. In a culture that measures worth by hard work, efficiency, and wealth, we need a weekly reminder that we are God’s redeemed image bearers whose ultimate identity is found in our relationship with him. Practicing this will look different for each person. What matters most for God’s house of prayer is that God is central not only in our worship but in the rhythms of our lives. 

A house of prayer for all to receive forgiveness and joyfully commune with God

“…these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar” (Isaiah 56:7).

Regardless of our nationalities, we are all from Adam’s sinful family and our rebellion separates us from God. So God’s promise to accept burnt offerings and sacrifices is wondrous news of a God who desires reconciliation with us. Earlier in his prophecy, Isaiah foretold of God’s servant who would bear the ultimate sacrifice: “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Hundreds of years later, this prophecy was fulfilled through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins.

Thus God’s house of prayer is a place for sinners to repent and trust in Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. This free gospel offer is for unbelievers who need to enter into relationship with God. And it is also the good news believers need every time our sinful rebellion breaks our fellowship with God. We can never work our way back to God–we receive forgiveness and reconciliation through repentance and trust in Christ.

The end result of Christ’s work is for us to joyfully commune with God. Through meditating on his word, singing songs of praise, pouring out our needs, and resting in his promises, we draw near to him to find all the desires of our hearts satisfied. Indeed, it is through our very joy in God that his worth is displayed in his house of prayer.

This vision of being A House of Prayer for All Nations drives everything we do at Groveton Baptist Church. We gather for Bible study and worship to apply the gospel and joyfully commune with God. We nurture relationships with one another to help keep God central to our lives through the challenges and temptations we face. We reach out mercifully to our community and support global missions to display and declare the greatness of our God in hopes that all nations, here and abroad, will love his name. As we do this, may our church be defined not by nationality, class, or culture, but by our shared, joy-filled passion for God. By this work of the Spirit, may we be A House of Prayer for All Nations.

 

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