Please read and pray for The Altar Project 2018 as it begins Oct. 12.
Remember Foto Hut drive-through kiosks? If not, Google it. Customers would actually deliver rolls of film negatives to these local Foto Hut stores, then return to collect their finished photographs. How quaint.
The Foto Hut chain failed and went into obsolescence in the early 2000s due to competition and the rise of digital media.
Remember family worship? If not, Google it. Families would actually gather, sometimes twice a day, to sing, read scripture, and pray. They did this to keep God at the forefront of family life.
Like Foto Huts, family worship has gone the way of floppy discs and pay phones, joining other relics of the past like prayer meeting and Bible study. Modern families today have no time to eat together, let alone worship together. Is it any wonder that there is a spiritual power shortage in our churches, and growing spiritual darkness in our communities?
The knowledge of God and His salvation plan is vanishing from society. That’s not news. What is shocking is that it is vanishing from Christian homes! And if we don’t repent and make some changes, we could be heading the way of the post-Joshua generation of whom it is written: “…another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals” (Judges 2:10, 11).
By the time Elijah the prophet showed up during Ahab’s reign in the 9th century BC, Baal and Yahweh were worshiped side by side. Idolatry had become accepted practice and the people of Israel no longer knew who the real God was.
Revival and reformation were needed, and it started on Mount Carmel with Elijah rebuilding the Lord’s altar. (See 1 Kings 18:30-32.) What’s an altar? Google it. Better yet, open your Bible to Genesis 8:20. An altar is a place of sacrifice and worship.
In Elijah’s day, the Lord’s altar was in ruins. Consequently, the spiritual power and identity of God’s people was compromised. Fire and rain from heaven were desperately needed, but neither could fall while the worship of God was neglected.
Thirty centuries later, the Lord’s altar—the one in our homes—is in ruins again. The spiritual power and identity of God’s people is again being compromised. Once again, “fire and rain” from heaven are desperately needed. But neither can fall while the worship of God is neglected.
The Altar Project is our call to restore family worship in the Washington Conference. It’s a call to 30 days of revival and reformation that begins simply with gathering the family at least once a day to pray and worship God together. It’s called “altering the altar.”
10 reasons for restoring family worship right now
- 1) It honors God. Could there be a better reason? For a people whose mission is to call the world to “fear God and give Him glory” (Rev. 14:7), family worship should be our highest priority and greatest joy.
2) It facilitates revival. “A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.” (1 SM, 121) Prayer in the family circle, as well as private prayer, is essential to revival.
3) It puts God first. Before the heat of the day and the push notifications of Facebook, “seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
4) It brings the Bible back into the family discourse. Reading, singing, memorizing, and talking about the Bible foster a biblical worldview. “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life!”
5) It reminds us of our dependence on God. Pausing our devices and other home activities to pray and praise God reminds us we belong to Him, and in Him “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
6) It helps keep our children connected to God. Satan “invents every possible device to engross the mind” (GC, 519). His purpose is to put such distance between our children and God that they forget Him altogether. Family worship breaks the spell and reconnects our children with their Savior.
7) It turns our homes into households of prayer. “Like the patriarchs of old, those who profess to love God should erect an altar to the Lord wherever they pitch their tent.... Fathers and mothers should often lift up their hearts to God in humble supplication for themselves and their children. Let the father, as priest of the household, lay upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice, while the wife and children unite in prayer and praise. In such a household Jesus will love to tarry” (PP, 144).
8) It is a hedge against temptation. “Fathers and mothers, however pressing your business, do not fail to gather your family around God’s altar. Ask for the guardianship of holy angels in your home. Remember that your dear ones are exposed to temptations” (CG, 520).
9) It’s an opportunity to model joy in the worship of God. Be creative. Don’t make the home altar a place of drudgery and boredom. Through laughter, song, drama, and sharing, make this an age-appropriate time of rejoicing.
10) It will revolutionize our church. As goes the home, goes the church…and the school. We cannot expect the church to awaken from Laodicean slumber if the home is asleep.
As someone said about a recent Psalms singing conference, this is not about the next “big thing.” Indeed, this is a rather small thing. What is family worship in the face of the opioid crisis or homelessness or teen suicide or human trafficking, or terrorism, or mass shootings, or environmental catastrophes? To human eyes, it is nothing. But then again, it may be everything. God loves using “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;…the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27).
Can I make the following practical suggestions?
1) Make a plan. Don’t wait until October 12 to figure out what you’re going to do. Think it through now.
2) Keep it simple. Avoid being grandiose. If you want to guarantee discouragement and failure, try to do too much. Five to ten minutes to gather, share and pray is all that’s needed. It’s not the elaborate display that counts with God, but the sincerity of a humble heart.
3) Participate whether you have children or not. Family worship is not just for children. If you’re single, you are your family. A family of friends or fellow church members counts, too. My wife and I have an empty nest but we will be altering our altar as a couple.
4) Pray for and with your children. Even if they’re grown, why not reach out and get their prayer requests, then commit to praying for those concerns over the next 30 days?
5) Check this site often for daily prayer prompts, worship ideas, and devotionals that will keep you motivated and focused (washingtonconference.org/altar).
6) Share this letter and/or the video on social media. Use the power of your friend list to share the word and encourage altar building all over this conference and beyond. You'll find the invitation video here.
Now is the time to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods [of this age, or the Lord]” (Josh. 24:15). My challenge and prayer is that for the next 30 days you will gather up the “stones” and join me in saying, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Washington Conference Prayer Ministry coordinator