In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people but in the New Testament, God had his people as his temple.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthains 3:16
God functions from you and not from the altar, podium or stage in our Churches.
An inquisitive mind asked “do I really need to kneel before the altar to pray before God will answer me?”
My reply was “No… But its not a bad idea to kneel before the altar and pray if you love doing so… I too, sometimes I love praying while kneeling at the altar of the Church. However, many religious people have a wrong notion of that altar in our Churches! They treat it as if that is where God dwells, they see it as the place where God can only perform wonders.
Don’t get me wrong… The Altar in our Churches isn’t a bad idea! But that is not God’s dwelling place! It is you that is the temple of the Holy Spirit and not the Church building! It is the presence of believers that makes the Church building holy! When two or three gathers in the name of Jesus, His manifest presence is there! Jesus boldly declared
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
There is a difference between God’s presence and God’s manifested presence. God is omini-present, so whether we gather or not God is every where! But, that presence becomes a reality because we have gathered! God is no longer there because He is everywhere, He is there because a gathering is being done in His name. Jesus didn’t say “…I am there” but “there am I in the midst of them”.
So, we come with that presence that makes the atmosphere uncomfortable for sickness and failure! Although the context of the above scripture is based on Church discipline, we can simply get something from that place… We individually carry God’s presence in us and that is why when we gather, we gather with the presence we already carry! That doesn’t mean we need two or more for God to answer our prayers… Let’s see what the Apostle John said about prayers
“Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” 1 John 5:14–15.
John wrote somewhere else, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” 1 John 3:22.
There was no mention of the need for us to kneel at the Altar to ensure that our prayers are answered… The whole operation is from us directly to God and from God directly to us! God is dealing individually with every man.
I don’t come to church just to worship, I come with worship! Jesus made it clear in John 4:21-24
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
If the Spirit of God isn’t in you, you are wasting your time at that altar… If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, I wonder who you are talking to at that altar! The altar is not as sacred as you if you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you! You are holier than the altar… The answer to your prayers isn’t at the Altar! The physical Altar is simply symbolic!
So, when I wish to kneel at the Altar and pray, it means I just want to separate myself from the crowd for a while and pray! I love the idea of Chapels in big churches, for me its a quiet place where you can run from distraction and concentrate on God but it is not another special place where another kind of God’s power is available. Some years ago, I felt a need to be alone with God without noise or distraction. I decided to make use of the Chapel at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Nkpor, Anambra – Nigeria. On entrance, I was asked to remove my foot wear, perhaps to avoid distracting people with my footsteps or because they believe it to be a holy ground. I wasn’t a Catholic and I don’t believe what they believe… I saw the statue of Madonna and infant Jesus there and everywhere was quiet with people all over the place holding on to their Rosary, some where lost in total devotion while some where just there staring at the statue of Madonna. To me, the Chapel was nothing more than a quiet room where one can pray without distraction! I spent my time there and I left!
The main altar is in me… So when I kneel at the Altar of our Church, I come with God’s presence… It is my presence as a Child of God that even makes that place a sacred place!”