COVID-19: A call to revive our family altars
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to emphatically say that the family altar is actually a place to alter the situation of things around us.
Somebody once asked me: “Pastor, where do we go from here when churches and mosques are closing up every day?” My answer was very simple: God wants us to return to that which cannot be closed up and that is our ‘family altars.’ Our core enemy presently is anything that pushes us to relegate our family altars, even if that thing is our church.
In these perilous times when churches and mosques are closing down, we must now fall back on our family altars. It is now becoming glaring that our family altars and not religious altars are actually our spiritual backbone. This is a time to go back to our family altars; a time to reconnect back to God and teach our children Godly principles. No church can be stronger than the sum of the family altars it represents.
This Coronavirus crisis is a call to revive our family altars. Many families have dead or non-existing family altars, because our spiritual leaders have not been putting a high premium on family altars. Pastors and parents are culprits in the deterioration of the fire on our family altars. Pastors are to emphasise the importance of family altars and not keep harping on the issues of mobile offerings and tithes. When the family altar is strong, it would unfailingly reflect on sacrificial giving.
God is speaking to families through this COVID-19 crisis to go back to repair and revive their family altars. The family that would stay together must first pray together. Parents must take up their priestly roles in the lives of their children; they must know that they are the first prophets in the lives of their children. If there is one thing that would determine how far we would go in these turbulent times, it is our family altars. This difficult time would put a serious demand on our family altars.
What is a Family Altar? It simply means a particular time or place set aside for your family to fellowship together. This is the time to pray and share the word of God together as a family. It is also a time to praise God and count our blessings. You can even extend it to a time to share testimonies and God’s goodness with one another. If you really want to confront issues that border on your family’s peace and stability, then you must have a vibrant family altar.
One of the most important things you can do to secure the spiritual atmosphere in your home is establish a place of corporate prayer. It is only through the family altar that spiritual exercises, such as prayer, teaching, praise and worship can be introduced into our homes. In order words, the family altar is church in the home.
Our children are being fed with junks from the Internet, social media and negative peer influence, because parents are not taking their places in the lives of their children. Until we take our rightful places as parents, our children would continuously be displaced.
Pornography, masturbation and sexting are satanic habits that have taken roots under the family roof, because parents are not sensitive enough to the spiritual needs of their wards. Family devotions and African values have been substituted with African magic.
The altar connotes a place of intimacy and communion with God. Abraham was called the friend of God because of the way he related with God through his family altar. What made the difference was his attitude to the family altar.
Genesis 18:19 captures it succinctly on how Abraham put the highest premium on the family altar: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” As a parent, can God trust your commitment to your family altar?
The physical world can be controlled from your prayer altar. The progress, peace and tranquility you desire in your home in this challenging times can be gotten from the prayer altar. The key to raising our children in the faith is the household. For too long, parents have delegated both the time and task of religious practice to the church. We lose in the lives of our children when we fail in our responsibility of having a vibrant family altar at home.
For many Christian families, spiritualties are meant for the church alone- all prayers, teachings and worship must be only in the church. In many of these families, there has been the abdication of Godly leadership, family worship and spiritual leadership.
Many head of families have abdicated their responsibilities to pastors and prophets and in a way that has become so sympathetic and appalling. Many men of God refuse to put this error in proper perspective, as they are actually beneficiaries of dilapidated family altars. A man of God that is profiting from people’s dependence on him would not be so much perturbed about dysfunctional family altars.
Do you have an altar in your house? I don’t mean a pile of stones or an altarpiece, but rather a family altar where you can reflect your commitment to the Lord, educate your children in the faith and seek the salvation of your family. If you don’t have it, I encourage you to get one. If you already had one, but not vibrant, then revive it. Don’t expect the church or another person to do what God has called and equipped you to do. Disciple your family!
If you are not together in one place as a family, then bring in technology, such as Zoom, or engage the family on WhatsApp. Bring creativity and fun through your family altars. Don’t allow it to be taken over by boredom and routine. You can even play games, such as interactive games, and memorising Bible verses. Make it a delightful, happy, interesting time filled with enthusiasm, so that the whole family looks forward to it with real expectancy.
Don’t make it so long that the children despise the time it takes. Better have it short and sweet, vital and satisfying, so their appetites hunger for more.
Make it more dynamic and full of life rather than a dull, repetitive one. Make it more inclusive for the children and give everybody a platform to express his or her spiritual needs.
Be sensitive to your children’s attention spans, as we often lose them when this is not taken into consideration. Most times, children are present physically, but are no longer mentally and emotionally available when we drag the devotion more than necessary.
Do not spend time in criticising or gossiping on your family altars; it is not a place to judge others, but rather to share love. It is a place to solve problems and not to criticise others. You can make it morning and evening. Make the evening devotion more reflective to review the day, to confess where we have failed and to give thanks where we have succeeded.
Generally, the family altar fosters unity, harmony and love in the family. It creates an atmosphere for miracles, signs and wonder in the family. Family altar is a great avenue to hear God and get direction for the family. The benefit of family altar cannot be over emphasised.
Do not trivialise or look down on the family altar. Every believer who desires to have a home that would be heaven on earth should not neglect the family altar. You must fight for your family if your family must take flight. In this time of COVID-19, stay strong, stay united as a family and stay safe.