Sunday, January 22, 2017
Come to the Altar
These women are simply amazing. They laugh and cry and pray. And they have burdened hearts.
They have their own burdens, yet they freely help carry the burdens of others.
And it isn't just my Sunday school class. It's my church has a whole.
We can count on one another to hold our hands, whisper prayers, and offer encouragement. All in the name of love.....agape love.
And this morning, as we sang our hymn of invitation, I felt led to kneel at the altar and thank God for his gift of salvation because I am so undeserving. I lose my temper. I overeat, I don't spend enough time in God's word. I do things that I know are not pleasing to God, and I just wanted to thank him for loving me that much.....to sacrifice his son for me, for my husband and for my sons. And as I thanked him for that love, that amazing love, I cried out to him to watch over my children, to lead them and guide them. I cried for my youngest sons to one day, the day that the Lord has planned, to open their hearts to him, to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I prayed for all of my boys to live godly lives, lives that bring honor and glory to God. I prayed for my husband to have strength and wisdom as he serves God and our church, and I prayed that I would be the woman that God has planned for me.
And during this prayer, this crying out to my Father, I felt hands on my shoulder, the hands of a husband loving me and the hands of a sister in Christ praying for me. And at that time, I thanked God for the body of Christ, those brothers and sisters who love us and pray for us, that kneel at the altar and hold us.
So many people fear the altar. Well, maybe they fear what the alter signifies.....I need you God.
And we presume that people will start to question and judge us, wondering what we did wrong to have to go to the altar to pray.
But my question is this....Why does something have to be wrong to go to the altar to pray?
Can I not go to the altar and offer a prayer of praise?
Can I not go to the altar and lift up a prayer for someone in need?
Of course I can, and you can too.
We have to humble ourselves to do so. Satan will feed us those lies when God calls us to the altar. Satan will tell us that people will watch us and question us. Satan will tell us that we will be judged by the rest of the congregation. He whispers it to those of us in the front pew as well as to those in the balcony.
But we mustn't listen. We should answer God's call.
Humbling ourselves is never easy, but when we do, there are no regrets.
I'm thankful for those that kneel at the altar to pray.....whatever their prayer may be. I'm thankful for those who come forward to kneel beside them, hand in hand, offering up a prayer for them. I'm thankful that God meets us there at the altar, that he stirs our souls, that he hears our prayers, and that he has answers that are better than we could ever imagine.
I encourage you.....come to the altar......lift up a prayer of thanksgiving and praise....lift up a prayer of adoration......lift up a prayer of needs and wants......lift up a prayer for one another. Come to the altar and see what God can do when you humble yourself before him.
What are your fears of going to the altar to pray? Do you feel like your church takes advantage of the altar? What can you do to encourage others to pray during the invitation?