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Back to the Altar

Back to the Altar

by Robert Jones on January 16, 2019

     One night a little boy was put to bed and within several minutes began to whimper because he was scared.  His mother graciously went into the bedroom to console him and help him go to sleep.  He confessed he was scared of the dark and asked if he could sleep in mommy's room.  His mother grinned and quietly told him that he wasn't alone because Jesus was with him and he didn't need to be scared.  The little boy thought about this for a second then asked his mother, "Why don't I sleep with daddy, and you sleep in my bed with Jesus?"  Why is it that we avoid intimacy with Jesus?  As a grown-up, I've learned to not give in to my fears.  Instead, I approach God full of trust to provide for my every need.  
     I am often asked, “Why do I need to go forward on Sunday mornings to have the leaders of the church pray over me, when I can just pray for myself?” This is a legitimate question, (because it is true) that we can all pray for ourselves and believe in faith that God will heal us.  I believe the focus is misplaced though, because the real issue is not whether praying for yourself is more effective than having someone else pray over you.  The instruction in James chapter five is about affirming the role of the Body of Christ and the act of faith of laying hands on people.  
     Many aspects of our faith are symbolic such as taking communion, anointing people with oil, water baptism, coming down to the altar, etc.  Laying hands on people for prayer is one of those symbolic methods in ministry, in which there is no magical power transferred through a person’s hands, but rather God responds to our faith.  In other words, God makes people necessary in the process of authoritative prayer.  These are not meant to be legalistic rules stating that nobody can be healed unless leaders lay hands on them and pray.  
     In Matthew 6:8 it says, “...your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”  Yet, we still are required to open our mouths to actually pray.  Let’s step out in faith, and go back to the altar!  God will reward your faith, and meet your need!

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