The Coronavirus has interrupted our entire way of life, albeit temporarily. Crowds are out, and social distancing is in. Most of our churches are implementing online worship as a means of social distancing.
These steps are necessary if we wish to curb the spread of the disease. Now is the perfect time to bring back the family altar.
Last week I was in a virtual meeting with David Franklin, associational mission strategist for Bartow Baptist Association, and other prayer-leaders from across the state. David heads up the prayer movement in Georgia and encouraged several specific prayer-strategies surrounding the outbreak.
Given that kids are home from school, and many parents home from work, David encouraged the formation of the family altar every night at 7 p.m. Why 7 p.m.? The Coronavirus is known as COVID-19. In military time, 1900 hours is 7 p.m. Therefore let 1900 hours be a reminder to pray for those who are infected, for our nation’s medical professions, for the vulnerable, and for our response as the Church of Jesus Christ.
In my home as a child we had a family altar. Five nights per week after supper and all the farm chores were done, the Bibles were passed out and my dad led a study that usually lasted the better part of an hour. When the study was done, all five of us got on our knees and we had prayer. Each of us boys would pray, followed by our mother, and finally dad would close us out. The only nights we did not practice the family altar were Sunday nights and Wednesday nights – we were in church on those nights. Otherwise, every night of my life ended in the altar.
I can testify to the effects of a family altar. I cannot imagine what the first 18 years of my life would have been like without it. But more importantly, I cannot imagine what the following 38 years would have been like had I not been given that spiritual foundation by my earthly father.
COVID-19 will pass but the results of the family altar will remain forever. No matter how old your children are, it is never too late to start the family altar. Just read over your Sunday School lesson together and pray as a family. I can testify that the family altar will alter your family.
Marcus Merritt serves as catalyst for Church Minister Relations of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.