OPINIONS

The Family Altar - A Place Of Prayer

Mar 23, 2017

The family should take its role as Christian seriously, there should first of all construct an altar for their family. In order to serve God, you need a place to do it. Dad needs a place to fix bar in his house. Mom needs a place where she fixes make-up in her room. The children need a place where they can play and make crafts.

The family also need a place to pray which is the family altar. This special place of prayer does not have to be fanciful, but it should be special. Remember, it is a place where the family carries out its most vital activities: prayer, the reading of the sacred Scriptures, and the announcing of important things in the life of the family.

But as a practical matter, how do we pass on our faith to our children? How do we successfully hand off our faith to the next generation so that they can continue the race and do their part to advance the Christian mission? No doubt, there are a variety of ways. But I would suggest that one of the main ones is the practice of family prayer.

The altar can be a simple shelf mounted on a wall, a small table covered with a tablecloth or, a special dresser with a glass top. The altar itself, contains candles, a Bible, and prayer books, include a small incense burner and a bottle of Holy Water.

Christian families have especially gathered twice a day for corporate prayer, morning and evening. Morning prayer gives us an opportunity to bring our needs and concerns to God before we embark on the day's activities. It also helps each person "set his mind on the things above" (Colossians 3: 1). Evening prayer, on the other hand, is an opportunity for us to review the day, confess where we have failed, and to give thanks where we have succeeded.

Prayer during these two times does not have to be long; ten to fifteen minutes is generally sufficient. The important thing is to be consistent. It's far better to spend five minutes a day to praying together than to spend fifteen or twenty minutes praying. The general principle is to become faithful in our life. (Luke 16:10).

Whenever there is a special need in the family it's a good practice to stop what we're doing and gather for a few moments at the family altar. In like manner, whenever something especially good happens, it's a good idea to stop and give thanks. These times of spontaneous prayer are wonderful tools for communicating to children the reality of God's presence and His involvement in our lives.

Once you make the appropriate time and place, you still have one important decision left to make how to pray at the family altar. Some people think that this is the most difficult. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help us. Good prayer books can be obtained.

When using a prayer book, it is necessary to say every necessary prayer, to "stick to the script."  One final note: prayer was never intended to be a monologue. In genuine prayer God speaks to us, and we speak to Him. Both are necessary for dialogue. But how does God speak to us? Are we to expect an audible voice? Generally, God speaks to us through the reading of the Holy Scriptures.  Bible reading should be an integral part of our family worship.

Praise and worship at your family altar. Teach your children that worship is not confined to the walls of a church. Allow your home to become your sanctuary.  Worship the Lord together and dedicate that special moment to the Lord as a family.

God specifically charges parents to have His Word upon their hearts and then to pass it on to their children (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9). What better context for Bible reading than as we are gathered together as a family for the purpose of prayer?

Remember, this is about building a family that functions in the body of Christ. “The family that prays together stays together.” Twenty years from now your children will cherish those small moments that you shared together. Remember, you are not just building an altar, you are building a family.

By Mrs. Ogechukwu Igbelina

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City, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria                     

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