Enjoying the Journey
It was a joy again yesterday to see people on their knees, seeking the Lord. There is something wonderfully refreshing about definite, united prayer among God’s people. In these strange days in our world churches have had to make a number of adjustment to their meetings. Most of these are logistical – issues such as seating arrangements and service times. However, if we are not careful, subtle changes can be made that have spiritual implications.
I am very aware that people do not have to be kneeling to pray and that they do not have to be in an “altar” to respond to God. Yet there is something wonderful about calling people to gather in a place of prayer for one purpose. Don’t stop using the altar!
Throughout history Bible preachers have used a variety of ways to invite people to respond to truth. George Whitfield called on hearers to respond immediately to gospel appeals. D. L. Moody used an “after meeting” in an adjacent room. Others have encouraged private appointments when the message is done. It was Charles Finney who instituted the “anxious bench” and Billy Sunday who encouraged people to “hit the sawdust trail” and come forward.
It is my conviction that when the truth of God’s Word has been presented there should be a definite invitation to respond to the Lord. Application should begin before people even leave the meeting place and it should continue when they leave. Yes, I still love to see people kneeling in the altar.
Perhaps you think this a very old fashioned idea. That is ok with me, as long as you see in it the eternal truth – people must be called on to seek the Lord and respond to Him. The altar provides a place and time in our church meetings where we can encourage people to do just that.
Noah erected the first altar in Scripture. Abraham built an altar wherever he went. Throughout Scripture ancient altars represented an attitude toward the Lord…
- An altar is a place of prayer. In a church service we may talk about God but in the altar we are not talking about Him – we are talking TO Him.
- An altar is a place of humbling, bowing in the presence of a holy God.
- An altar is a place of surrender and sacrifice – a place where some things die and others come to life!
Thankfully we no longer have to erect an altar and sacrifice for our sins. Christ was our final sacrifice and His cross the ultimate altar! The offering that we bring is now one of praise to God and yielding to His will. The altar is more than a formality; it is a reminder of our need for specific seasons of prayer.
The most important altars are the personal altar and the family altar. We must pray personally and privately in our own homes. Perhaps if we gave more time there the church altar would be visited more frequently. Don’t stop using the altar!