I. When Prayer Gets Lost in the Shuffle
In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house.
Prayer got lost in the shuffle like a mouse.
“It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Jesus said as he overthrew the merchandisers’ tables (Matthew 21:12-13).
Did they see it coming, I wonder? Or were they too busy selling stuff to notice their blunder? Had “business as usual” blinded their eyes to the needs of the physically blind? Perhaps the reason they lacked sympathy for the lame in body was due to the holes in their lame souls. They had no true walk with God, and it showed in the way they treated others.
The crowd, confused and scattered, couldn’t find their way.
They sacrificed large sums of money to hear men say,
“It’s not enough. You must do more to please the Lord,”
But it was more than any of them could afford.
The blind and lame, they longed for peace,
Joy in their hearts, a sweet release
But found no place inside their “church,”
Which had left them in the lurch.
The crowd was wandering like sheep with no shepherd, and the blind and lame had to fend for themselves. Why is that?
II. Religious or Righteous?
Well, do you remember the story in I Samuel chapter 13 where King Saul prepared to wage war against the Philistines? God’s prophet Samuel had arranged to meet with Saul prior to the battle so he could offer the sacrifice, causing God’s favor to shine down on them. He ordered Saul to wait until he arrived before proceeding, but Samuel was running late and Saul grew impatient.
There seemed to be some fear involved, for when Saul saw his army scattering, he took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Like Cain, he went against the grain of what God told him to do and attempted through the fruit of his own efforts to bring a pleasing sacrifice to God.
It’s like the leader whose words imply, “Please us,”
Instead of, “Trust fully in Jesus.”
Saul’s actions were religious but not righteous, for he didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice.
Prayer got lost in the shuffle.
Religious men who lack a true relationship with God see no problem substituting their own procedures for God’s perfect will. As a result, their “flocks” scatter. The “sheep,” abused, become confused and nobody gets healed.
III. Taking Time to Appreciate God’s Perfect Sacrifice
But those who rest in God’s perfect sacrifice for them will throw away their crutches and “rise with wings like eagles.” They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:31) And those who allow the risen Christ to anoint their eyes with His salve will receive new vision to move forward.
Unfortunately, our busy lives allow little time for this. To tune out distractions can be hard. If you don’t set them aside in order to pray, however, you’re sure to lose the battle.
Before Jesus ascended (to heaven),
Because His word was ended,
He told his followers to wait –
But not on fate,
They weren’t to fear being late, but in obedience wait to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit.
It’s all about determining to believe God’s Word and meditating on God’s goodness shown through His only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes you must escape the noise before you can appreciate His sacrifice on your behalf and understand the power of Isaiah 53:5, which states:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” Jesus said. We are that house when we surrender our lives to Him.