"Re-Establish My Altar!"
"RE-ESTABLISH MY ALTAR!"
The altar is a powerful symbol - a symbol of the place of prayer. God is calling people to the place of prayer, so that He can pour out his love, power, and healing. As the Holy Spirit brings us to a place of surrender and prayer, powerful things begin to happen.
(1) The altar of prayer is a place of consecration.
For all who sincerely desire to follow Christ, there is power in fresh consecration. This is a rededication of all that we are, and all that we have, to Christ. Re-dedicating our all to Christ will bring fresh empowerment from heaven! In the Old Testament, the priests were reminded, "A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out." (Lev. 6:13). This reminds us of the fire of total surrender to Christ: Whatever comes, whether danger or blessing, whether difficulty or triumph, my all belongs to Him!
"I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1). Fire will fall on the altar of consecration!
(2) The altar of prayer is a place of confession, and turning from sin.
When the Holy Spirit is at work, people confess and forsake sin. Confession of sin is life changing - when there is also a willingness to forsake sin. The compromises and sins of the flesh have become so commonplace; Lord, establish the power of your altar in our hearts. Bring cleansing, confession and a turning from sin into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit!
When there is sin in our hearts, it hides the face of the Father from us. "For your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2). But through confession and turning from sin, the Holy Spirit cleanses us by applying the precious blood of Christ. Then the barriers are removed, and God promises, "I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel." (Ezek.39:29 / also Acts 2:17,18). When we are seeking His face we are seeking nothing for self, but only to please Him. On such hearts the Lord will surely pour out His Spirit.
(3) The altar of prayer is a place of surrender.
As people come to the altar in surrender, lives are transformed. The church altar is a powerful place for evangelism, as people are called to come forward to the altar to receive Christ as Lord.
People come forward to the altar because of anointed preaching and the work of the Holy Spirit; this leads to genuine surrender, as the Holy Spirit brings people to the new birth. Individuals can "come to the altar" in surrender, in their own time alone with the Lord as well. "Coming to the altar" is more than just praying a prayer: it means a genuine surrender of your heart and life to Christ. Nothing less will do!
The altar is also a place for those who have wandered from God, to come back to Him. The door is wide open, to come back to God. There is nothing sweeter than to see a prodigal son or daughter coming back to God at the altar. The altar is a place of surrender.
(4) The altar is a place of prayer.
The Spirit is calling us to prayer, with a compelling voice. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 has been a widely quoted passage for restoration, forgiveness and healing. It applies to our time of prayer: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land." We must "build an altar" today in our hearts as we draw near to God in prayer. It is an altar of surrender, and an altar of prayer and confession. May we be a "people of the altar," who live daily at God's altar of prayer, and who gather together at places of prayer with other believers. As we pray and seek His face, God will bring healing.
(5) The altar, the place of prayer, is a place to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!" (John 7:37). As we come to the feet of Jesus and ask, He will pour out His fullness of the Holy Spirit upon us. He will fill us. He will pour water upon the thirsty! (Isaiah 44:3). There is a great need for people to be baptized in the Spirit, to receive power to witness and to receive power for victorious Christian living. Lord, pour your Spirit into our hearts, in fresh power!
(6) The altar of prayer is a place of healing.
As people request prayer for healing, healing gifts of the Spirit can be given to those in need. Elders of the church can also anoint people with oil and pray for healing, following the instructions of James 5:14-16. In times of seeking God and prayer, miracles can occur in people's lives through divine healing, opening the door for people to come to Christ. God also sovereignly touches and heals people to demonstrate His compassion and glory. We are encouraged to seek gifts of healing. (1 Cor. 12:7-11,31; 14:1).
(7) The altar of prayer is a place of worship.
As people enter into worship at God's altar, the presence of God becomes tangible. The atmosphere of worship invites the presence of the Holy Spirit to touch people's hearts. "Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise you, O God, my God." (Psalm 43:4). In our individual lives or in corporate worship, worshipping God for who He is brings us into an increasing awareness of God's presence and goodness. God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
As the worship of false gods was overrunning Israel, Elijah was a man true to God. The nation experienced a difficult drought, and at the end of it, Elijah called for a showdown with the prophets of Baal. He said, "The god who answers by fire, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:24).
After the prophets of Baal had failed to call down fire, Elijah called the people to him. He said, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins." (1 Kings 18:30).
This incident has much to say to us today! Let us restore the altar of the Lord, as Elijah did. In many places it is in ruins, or badly in need of repair. When the altar was restored and the sacrifice was placed on the altar, the fire of God fell. The people cried, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:39).
God is calling people everywhere back to His altar! The altar must first be established in our hearts as a place of prayer and surrender; then it must be strengthened and established where God's people gather. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the altar will be established once again as a place of evangelism, surrender, healing and prayer. It will be a place where people are baptized anew in the Spirit, and a place of fresh consecration. And it will be a place of glorious worship. Lord, establish your altar once again. Begin with me!
Copyright 2008 by M. A. Erickson / May be distributed, with correct attribution.