We can see that God’s original intention for the church was that it be a house of prayer. One of the reasons why many believers who love God and want to please Him and do His will don’t make their churches houses of prayer is that they haven’t understood this original purpose. Our heavenly Father is calling us to return to this essential role. Jesus is still saying to us through the voice of the prophet Isaiah,
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. eir burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7)
I have identified very basic characteristics of a true house of God: it is a house (1) of prayer; (2) of offerings; (3) of sacrifices; (4) with a functioning altar; (5) for all nations. Besides being a house of prayer, the other four qualities must be present in the church. Let us look at each one of them and how they interconnect.
1. A House of Prayer
Once again, to be able to carry the presence and blessing of God in our lives, we need to pray continually. Such “prayer without ceasing” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17) must be something that arises spontaneously, prompted by the Spirit of God. When prayer begins to weaken in a church, the power of God is absent, and everything starts to crumble; then, the presence of God and the Word of God become scarce; there are no miracles or blessings, there is no salvation of souls or deliverance from spiritual bondage. The only things that are left are empty religion, routine, and traditions, void of the life of Christ.
2. A House of Offerings
In Christ, God has made every believer His priest to present spiritual sacrifices and offerings to Him. Peter wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5), and “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…” (verse 9). The church is the place where, as priests, we present our offerings to God. A church that doesn’t present offerings is not a house of God. Many pastors and leaders don’t teach their congregations about giving offerings—spiritual offerings, as well as monetary ones—because they’re afraid people will be o ended and leave the church. However, by doing this, they turn the house of God into a house of man, and they withhold the blessings people would receive by giving to God.
3. A House of Sacrifices
As a holy priesthood, we are to draw near to God to offer sacrifices like prayer, worship, praise, intercession, and offerings. Making spiritual sacrifices often involves dying to ourselves—to our wills, our time, our pride, our ambition, the use of our nances, and so forth. A church in which the people don’t o er spiritual sacrifices cannot be called a house of God, because in a house of God, the priests give sacrifices; and every time they do, they draw closer to God, and the blessings come.
A church is not authentic if it doesn’t have a priesthood that presents offerings
and sacrifices to God.
After a sacrifice, there is always a blessing. Look what happened when Jesus was baptized in water as an act of submission and consecration to God the Father:
When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21–22)
The “law of sacrifice” establishes that something must die in order for something else to live. at is why every blessing starts with a sacrifice. We can see this truth in the life of every man and woman of God. If you look back on your own life, do you notice that just before every blessing you received, some type of sacrifice was made? Or that, after a sacrifice, a season of blessings began for you? In the Bible, when people made sacrifices, there were open
portals from heaven for them to receive something unusual from God. (See, for example, John 1:49–51; Acts 7:54–56.) The same is true today. The portals open because of the “blood” that flows from the sacrifice. Therefore, if there is sacrifice, there will also be open heavens.
Spiritual sacrifices open the heavens and keep them open.
4. A House with a Functioning Altar
From the beginning of time, the altar has always been a place where God and man could meet. It is a place where sacrifices are offered, and a reminder that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. (See Hebrews 9:22.) When we make the call for salvation at King Jesus Ministry, people run to the altar; there, they pour out their hearts and publicly confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
However, in many churches, a modern message of “hyper-grace” has essentially shut down the altar, ceasing the giving of spiritual offerings in the house of God. Today, in the church as a whole, the altar has been ruined, and the fire of God is no longer burning, because sacrifices haven’t been offered in a long time. The altar of the church must be rebuilt to restore it to the place it deserves in the house of God. We need to urgently repair God’s altar by bringing our offerings there—giving sacrifices of praise, worshipping the one true God, calling the lost to repentance, and interceding for our families and friends.
5. A House for All Nations
A church that is not open to receive all nations and peoples is not a true house of God. If, in a congregation, prejudice and racism permeate, that is not a church, regardless of its size. God’s original design for His house is not for it to be a place of segregation, but a place that welcomes all races and ethnicities, and all generations; it is for young people, adults, children, and the elderly, both men and women.