Genesis 8.20, Genesis 12.8; 13.1-4; 22.9, 26.25, Psalm 95:6, Psalm 95:1
I'm writing this soon after organising and hosting 24 hours of worship at Beacon House of Prayer in Stoke on Trent. It's long been on my heart to release worship to God on behalf of my own city and moments like these really affirm the heart of many to bring thanksgiving to Him and declare His goodness and power over a locality. Our praise and worship definitely attracted His attention and has done throughout the ages.
There are lots of significant places of spiritual experience in the Bible that happened at an altar of worship. Noah marked his new covenant with God by sacrificing at an altar (Genesis 8.20). Abraham's spiritual journey was signified by his altar experiences.
Throughout the seasons of His life, Abraham built an altar and lived out an altar experience that carried him through life's changes and challenges (Genesis 12.8; 13.1-4; 22.9). Abraham's example went on into the next generations in the altar experiences of his son and grandson. The same God who had appeared to Abraham also appeared to his son, Isaac, at Beersheba and also gave him amazing promises. The result was, "Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord" (Genesis 26.25). The fullness of radical worship sustained life in these families who were centred around their encounters with God at the altar.
Throughout the Bible we see community altars, particular places where the people of God would gather to worship and offer sacrifices. I believe that there is a place for rebuilding those altars in our own context, in our generation. I'm not saying that our traditional places of worship can't be counted in. It's my understanding that these are the days when we are to refocus on the reality of our place of Divine Exchange. The opportunity we make to come before the Lord with all we are. For me, with other believers, it's in the House of Prayer where the altar of praise and worship is being built and offerings made to God on behalf of the city, but there is room for us to build these places in our homes and in our places of work. They can all be expressions of our willingness to come before God with our offerings, today's sacrifices, whatever we need to lay down and surrender to Him. These are places of the reality of our everyday lives being brought before God. Coming as we are and choosing to worship God even, especially, in times of difficulty. Humbling ourselves before him and allowing the truth of who He is to connect with our lives.
When I was reading through the experience of others and asking God what my altar might be like, what elements it could contain, I discovered some of the following keys that can be used in your personal or corporate offerings. These could form part of the way we focus our worship of Him. They would be our altar.
Bowing down, kneeling or lying down before God
Psalm 95:6: "O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."
This is a sign of submitting ourselves before Him, acknowledging our awareness of his Kingship and majesty, humbling ourselves and declaring that He is the one we want to rule over our personal lives and our community.
Singing or speaking out our praise
Psalm 95:1 "Oh Come let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation."
You may not think you have a voice or are tuneful. Do you know what? He loves to hear your song. No matter what it sounds like to you, choosing to praise in any circumstance helps us to keep our spiritual connection to God. It brings refreshing and can be amazingly renewing and strengthening. As we make our choice to offer him the words, the song on our lips, His response is to meet with us in that place and bring His 'God perspective' over our lives.
This is not just a list of our requests, though He will hear them. It's voicing our understanding of who He is and the truth of His reality for us. Over the past few years, I've been taking portions of scripture, sitting with them, writing them down and interpreting them for my journey and then releasing them back to God as my prayer and worship to Him. His word is a strong foundation for my prayer and is a way of agreeing with His truth over my life and over my city.
As you and I make time to sit with God in these places, these altars set apart to Him, we will understand more His purposes for us privately and corporately. For me, personally, in the context of my city, I want Him to hear the praise of those who love Him, those who believe that He is good. I want Him to know that we are grateful for all his goodness in ages past and believing that He has a good plan for our futures. I want Him to receive our worship and the glory that He's due.
What will be the place of offering for you even this week? Be sure that when you make a choice to set apart a place and a time, He will be waiting to meet with you there.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all Life Files by Paul Critchley