According to the prophet Zechariah, there are three places where prayer is to be made: (1) God’s house (the church); (2) every home; and (3) the secret closet. The Lord told Zechariah: “I will pour upon the house of David . . . the spirit of grace and of supplications. . . . And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart [signifying the church] . . . the family of the house of Levi apart [the family or home], and their wives apart [individuals]” (Zechariah 12:10, 12–13, my italics).
As Zechariah spoke this, Israel was surrounded by enemies bent on destroying them. There was great trembling and fear, but in the midst of it came this wonderful word: “God is coming to deal with those evil powers who are against you. So, start earnestly praying in the sanctuary. Start praying in your home. And pray in your secret closet. The Holy Spirit is coming, and He will supply you with the spirit of supplication and grace, enabling you to pray.”
Do you see God’s message to us in this passage? He is telling His Church in every age, “In times of terror and trembling, I want to pour out My Spirit upon you. But I must have a praying people upon whom to pour it.”
All the Old Testament prophets called God’s people to corporate prayer. Jesus Himself declared, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). The fact is, world history has been shaped by the prayers of Christ’s Church.
Think of it: The Holy Spirit was first given in God’s house, at the Upper Room. There the disciples had “continued with one accord in prayer” (Acts 1:14). We’re told that Peter was released from prison by an angel, while “many were gathered together praying” (12:12). Corporate prayer had been made continually for Peter’s release.
Clearly, God releases much power because of the prayers of His Church. Thus, the call to such prayer cannot be underestimated. We know the church has been commissioned to win souls, to do charity, to serve as the gathering place for God’s Word to be preached. But first and foremost, the church is to be a house of prayer. This is its primary calling, since all these other aspects of church life are birthed in prayer.