One of our pastors recently preached a weighty message. The crux of it was that per God’s instructions, Noah built an ark. That ark was the place of God’s presence—His provision, His rule—the only refuge for Noah’s family and two of all creation during the Flood that removed all wickedness from the face of the earth. [i]
On a much larger scale, the praying Church is building a spiritual ark against God’s last-days judgment that will burn like an oven to remove ungodliness and Satan’s strongholds once and for all. For as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. [ii] God calls this ark the house of prayer. It too will be the place of God’s presence, His provision, His rule, and our only safe refuge in the fiery storm. If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them. [iii]
Where exactly our pastor’s comments on the ark and life inside the ark left off and my imagination took over, I don’t rightly recall. But something he said opened my mind’s eye to see a building site that was a cross between Noah’s primitive boat and a modern-day prayer room. The Lord must’ve figured I needed an Ark Building 101 visual, with just a sip of lightheartedness, to down a solemn message regarding end times.
As I stepped onto the jobsite, I could tell right off that this was no small father-and-sons construction project, as was the case with Noah and his boys. This modern-day ark was a bustle of activity where people were engaged in all types of prayer, intercession, and giving of thanks for all men . . . for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. Every request lifted in prayer set another nail in place. Every shed tear fastened another nut and bolt. [iv]
By the look of things, the construction crew consisted of fellow ark dwellers like me—who quite frankly aren’t always the most skilled or compatible craftsmen in the prayer union pool. But God seems partial to our type. As long as we show up to work and devote ourselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to breaking of bread and the prayers, the ark can’t help but eventually take shape. [v]
And take shape it indeed had. The hull of this massive house-of-prayer ark, bow to stern, was an absolute masterpiece, a testimony to the generations of workers who had built upon the Jesus foundation laid by master builders. [vi] It looked like it could withstand the extraordinary forces that would soon come against it.
But the upper decks were still under construction. Living quarters for passengers looked modestly suitable to live in for a reasonable period of time. But they were hardly adequate to accommodate the revival masses God promises to draw in.
As for the cargo hold, work crews were scrambling to keep ahead of the first phase of incoming supplies. If this ark is to be a food-distribution center for all those taking refuge inside, we can't settle for small-potatoes preparation. Bring all tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, prove me now if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Faithful servants need to be trained for responsibilities associated with the handling and dispersing of supplies. Who then is that faithful servant whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their portion at the proper time? [vii]
Ark dwellers in the house of prayer seemed, for the most part, to be a joyful bunch. [viii] No doubt their efforts were bolstered by the love and grace of God because it's no easy task to build while the world looks on and scoffs. And because progress is slow and proper spiritual ark building takes time, I could see that there were some bugs to work out.
As if to validate my point, there arose quite a stir by what were most likely the animal stalls in Noah’s day. The commotion was coming from a number of groups, each shouldering a heavy sectional with a name inscribed upon it. These burden bearers were passionate about their specific prayer focus as they jostled one another for equal floor space. The poor, the nations, the unborn, the Church, unsaved loved ones, prisoners, Israel, the drug addict, those in authority—each burden was of extreme importance and worthy of receiving full attention in prayer. It can be a zoo at times when that many zealous people lock horns. They will have to work things out. Where no oxen are, the trough is clean, but increase comes by the strength of the ox. [ix]
To my right, the crew chief and what appeared to be a band of disgruntled little chiefs in training were haggling over God’s blueprint. These subordinates insisted that theirs was a better way, a shortcut even, to getting this prayer ark built and to gather everyone on board safely. “We need more rooms for a modicum of privacy,” some argued. “How do we steer this monstrosity without a helm?" others grumbled. "And while we're at it, what’s with the lone window in the roof? We’ll need more light than this.” I guess everyone has their own idea of how this ark should be built. Little do they know that the only safety from the upcoming fiery storm is to go about this monumental project God’s way and to do it as team players. Make yourself an ark . . . and this is the way you are to make it . . . I suspect they’ll learn. Humility and patience will make sure of that. [x]
I also noticed that above the harmonious back and forth exchange between worshipers building heavenly momentum with their praise, and pray-ers hammering away at intercession, other voices were singing a slightly different tune. From what I could tell, they were ark dwellers with burning hearts for the lost. The one closest to me had turned his toolbox into a soapbox and was beseeching fellow pray-ers to abandon the toilsome confines of ark building and head to the plenteous fields ripe for harvest. [xi]
He and the others didn't realize that prayer is essential to effective evangelism. It cultivates hearts, fuels harvest combines. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest, (then) Go your way; behold, I send you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Prayer also maintains the safe environment of God’s presence, His provision, His rule on this ark so those newbies in the faith can be discipled. [xii]
If ark dwellers struggle to get along with fellow brothers and sisters in the faith during this construction phase, how will we manage when God closes the door to salvation, and we are all trapped inside with each other? We must build together in love, each one doing his own part. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity . . . [xiii]
My heart was especially gripped with the importance of this ark when I noticed the medic’s tent set up on the third deck, out of the way of the hustle and bustle of construction. Ark dwellers dressed in scrubs were ministering to an alarmingly large number of pray-ers who had fallen victim to fainting spells and other crippling afflictions that drained them of confidence and power to pray effective and fervent prayers. Where else can those broken in body and spirit go for help if not to the ark? And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. [xiv]
This is no casual hobby we are piddling with; we are in partnership with God, building a house of prayer. Entire households need the safety of this ark and its community of faith. The fate of nations—their leaders, their borders, their future—hang in the balance because it's God who makes nations great and destroys them. He is the one "who enlarges their bounds or diminishes them”.
If people disregarded the warnings of an impending flood in Noah’s day, many will do the same when the fateful day of the Lord comes. People need to know there is a safe place of God’s presence, His provision, His rule while heavenly bodies are being burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works done on it are exposed. If evil comes against us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You, for your name is in this house, and to cry to You in our affliction, and you will hear and save. [xv]
With that, all lightheartedness left me. I sinched my nail belt, grabbed my hammer, and joined back with the masses laboring in prayer to complete this ark.
[i] Genesis 6:13–7:3 [ii] Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:7; Matthew 24:37–39 [iii] Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 18:19 – 20; Proverbs 18:10; Joel 2:28 – 32 [iv] 1 Timothy 2:1; Acts 6:4; Isaiah 56:7 [v] Acts 2:42 [vi] 1 Corinthians 3:8–15; Ephesians 2:20 [vii] Genesis 6:21; Malachi 3:8 – 12; Luke 12:42 – 44 [viii] Isaiah 56:7 [ix] Proverbs 14:4 [x] Genesis 6:14 – 15 [xi] 2 Chronicles 20:21; 1 Chronicles 23:26 – 32; 1 Chronicles 16:4; Genesis 28:11 – 16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Psalm 126:5 [xii] Luke 10:2 – 3; Isaiah 62:6 – 7; John 4:35 – 36 [xiii] Ephesians 4:16; Psalm 133:1 [xiv] Luke 18:1; James 5:13 – 20; Hebrews 3:13; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1; Colossians 1:9 [xv] Acts 16:31 – 34; Acts 18:8; Luke 19:9; Acts 11:14; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 17:26; Isaiah 41:2; Job 12:23 (Pulpit Commentary); 1 Timothy 2:1 – 7; Psalm 2:6 – 12; 2 Chronicles 20:6,8 – 9,12; 2 Peter 3:10