When Jesus was asked which of all God’s commandments was first in importance, he answered without any hesitation.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 10:28-30)
It may seem difficult at first glance to love a being that we cannot see. Yet this was not God’s original intent. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God (Genesis 3:8), and in the New Jerusalem, the redeemed will see His face (Revelation 22:4). Lovers of God through the generations have found that to those who seek him, he discloses enough of himself to keep us hungering for more. King David, Israel’s Psalmist, was fascinated with the beauty of the Lord, and declared,
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. (Psalm 27:4)
When Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38). This signifies that because Jesus has paid the price for our sins, we can approach the presence of the Holy One without shame and without fear. Yet those who belong to God often encounter many distractions and many impediments to prayer. And so the first and foremost goal of a House of Prayer is to encourage God’s people to come into His presence, by providing a place and an atmosphere that encourages prayer. The God of the Bible is a God who draws near to His people. He promises that if we draw near to Him with a sincere heart, He will draw near to us (James 4:8,Hebrews 10:19-22).
When we draw near to God, it is natural for us to present our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6, Matthew 7:7). We petition him for his favour and intervention in specific situations, not only for ourselves but for the needs of our community, our leaders, and the nations (1 Timothy 2:1-4). The Bible strongly encourages us to do all these things. Most of all Jesus instructed us to petition God for the coming of His Kingdom on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Yet even when our requests are godly ones, there is something more important than bringing requests to God. First and foremost, in the House of Prayer we come to love him with our songs of worship and our prayers of adoration and thanks and praise. (Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:5) These are expressions of the love of our hearts, and we find that as we focus our loving attention on God, he changes our perspective on everything else in our lives, and gives us eyes of faith, so that the rest of our prayers are filled with faith and the confident expectation of an answer.