Look all you want

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

I have the habit of going to the altar to pray, any chance I get. I bring my children with me. 

When I was a little girl, I saw my grandmothers, parents and other adult relatives praying on their knees. They prayed on their knees at home, at prayer services and at church. 

It took me until now to realize the importance of their example. I find myself on my knees often. It is a body posture that reflects what the heart wants to say. 

The other day, I was walking back to my seat, and I noticed someone's expression when they looked at the kids and I walking back to our seats. 

Most people stand at the altar and pray. We go down on our knees and we put our faces as close to the floor as we can. I can only speak for myself. We do this at home any chance we get. When we get to church, we follow back in the habit of humbling ourselves, body and soul and praying right there at the altar. 

The altar has a big significance in the Bible. God gave Moses detailed instructions of how to build it. He also told him how to offer sacrifices and offerings there. There is a blessing when we follow God's directives. To quote God Himself, speaking to Moses, 

"In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you." Ex. 20:24 (NKJV)

When I saw my parents and grandparents praying at the altar, I didn't get a sense of "name it and claim it." 

Despite their imperfections, I sensed they felt what the Psalmist wrote on chapter 84 verse 3:

"Even the sparrow has found a home,

    and the swallow a nest for herself,

    where she may have her young—

a place near your altar,

    Lord Almighty, my King and my God." Psalm 84:3    (NIV)

I can relate to the feeling I observed in my family. God's home is lovely. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord. I want to be near the altar. 

I feel incredible love and compassion at the altar. I feel God hears me. Yes, He does hear me elsewhere too. The opportunity to go to the altar for prayer is one I eagerly await for each day. 

Jesus spoke of the altar too in the context of reconciliation and forgiveness.  

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

Friend, I've been there too. More times than I can count, God convicted me of my sin against different people. I left the altar and asked for forgiveness. Then, I went back to the altar. 

I don't know another physical place where God can search the heart, convict me of sin and ask me to take action on the spot. I can tell you some stories. Obedience led to reconciliation and peace with God. 

The altar is a place of such peace. A peace that comes from humbling myself on purpose, not caring who sees with human eyes. The eyes of the Lord are the only ones I care about obeying. 

The world has altars too. Paul was in great distress when he had some downtime in Athens. He walked around and perceived the town was full of idols. 

"... for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you..."  Acts 17:23

The idols of this world are on full display for all to see. They can be things such as real statues. In the first world, we see idolatry to money, sports, entertainers, and politics just to name a few. 

Oh how we take our children to the altar of sports and together we bow down to it. We serve on the altar of sports by doing everything required to live that lifestyle. We leave behind our old habit of attending church. We can't do it because our children are laying prostrate at the altar of academics, sports, or the film industry. 

We serve those idols because we lost sight of what God wants for us. He wants the best. We don't believe Him when we do things our own way. 

The thing about the altars of this world is that no matter what sacrifice you bring (tip: often, they will ask everything of you, especially your children) it is never enough. 

I want to encourage you to examine the location of the altar where you and your children bend your knees. Is it God's altar or is it in front of an idol?

Prayer time was over so the kids and I got up. My heart was clear, I knew God heard me and answered me. During that morning, God answered my prayer before I got on my knees to pray. My heart was overflowing with gratitude. 

I'm met by this person's glance. I could see inquiry. I could sense even a bit of wondering why someone would do something like that. Get in front of a full church with her teen kids and get on her knees. 

If I could provide an answer, I would say, "Revelation 8:3."

"Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne." Rev. 8:3 (NIV)

This image of heaven is so powerful. Your prayers, my prayers, my children's prayers are displayed here. 

I wish I could tell that person that we are offering prayers to a God who is worthy to be praised and adored. 

What seems like an embarrassment for some is a joyful act for us. 

You get to choose how you live your Christian life in front of your family. As for me, I want to found on my knees, offerings prayers, petitions, thanksgiving and sacrifices of praise to God. 

Look all you want. Join me next time too.