Every church is to be “a house of prayer for the nations” (Mark 11:17). The four foundational pillars for that “house of prayer” are the glory of God, the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom, the Gospel, and divine desperation. The first four building stones for that house of prayer are praying the heart of Jesus, praying the name of Jesus, praying the Word of God, and praying in the Spirit. The fifth building stone is praying in holiness.
Often, we come to the Lord out of a desperate need to be cleansed from our sin. Though we are saved by grace through the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord, and we are children of God who have the Spirit of God, we still sin every day.
Yet, the only prayer God will hear is in holiness. God promises in Psalm 66:18 that “if I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear”. We have to pray with “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). This means praying in holiness.
To pray in holiness means to pray the Gospel every day. That is why prayer always begins with the Gospel. Paul Miller, commenting on his book, The Praying Life, writes,
In the gospel, because of Jesus’ death for us, we are accepted by grace. The only thing we bring to the table is our helplessness. In fact, if we try to bring our goodness, the gospel doesn’t work. Prayer works the same way. Jesus tells us to come helpless, “weary and heavy laden.” So prayer isn’t a discipline but learned desperation. It’s not so much a mountain to climb as a valley to fall into.
That is what it means to pray in holiness.
Instead of thinking prayer is only for holy people, know this: prayer is for helpless and desperate people who need a Savior every day. That is you and me!