Through our prayers we can shift the atmosphere over our homes, our cities, and our nation. Our corporate agreement in declaring God’s Word has power in the Spirit to change hearts, save lives, and establish Kingdom realities. But if we want our collective voice to have governing authority in the spirit, the Church must first establish itself as a house of prayer.
. . . My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations . . . (Mark 11:17).
Though it may look different from “house” to “house,” our role as a priesthood of believers is to establish a place of God’s presence. In 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV), we are called “. . . a chosen generation, a royal priesthood . . . .” This is part of our function as representatives of His Kingdom on the earth—to be ministers in the house of the Lord. We become witnesses to His presence and power as we minister before Him where we’ve been planted.
However, this is not automatic. Though we are heaven’s chosen representatives in our cities, the enemy has his counterfeits seeking to take that influence and authority from us. Ugandan pastor, John Mulinde, coauthored the book Prayer Altars with American pastor, Mark Daniel. Uganda experienced an amazing national transformation back in the mid-90s by practicing some of these principles. These two pastors describe the need for prayer altars to be built and established in a community in order to override the prevailing darkness. The authors state:
There is no such thing as neutral spiritual ground. Either there will be a predominance of holy altars drawing the presence of God or unholy altars drawing the powers of darkness . . . the altar that is most active will control the territory and will influence everything in that territory.
This is a needed wake-up call to realize that if the Church doesn’t establish its spiritual authority in prayer, the door will be open for the enemy to come in and devour the land by default. Numerous times in the Old Testament, God told His people to build altars and make a sacrifice to the Lord. This practice continues in the New Testament as we give sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving at the altar of worship (see Hebrews 13:15).
What are prayer altars? A prayer altar is a sacred time and sacred place where one meets with God. It is a place where God’s presence is the priority, over and above our list of personal needs or corporate agendas. It starts with inviting His presence and waiting upon Him as we read His Word, worship, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in changing the spiritual climate over our regions.
We don’t pray for His presence, but from it.
How do prayer altars function in the city? Altars are gateways to the spiritual realm and can be established anywhere that someone draws the attention of spiritual forces—good or bad–abortion clinics, prostitution hubs, corrupt establishments, New Age businesses, churches that are cults, etc. All these become forms of unholy altars that draw the presence of evil into a community. Until the priesthood of believers establishes holy altars to counter these ungodly gateways, the darkness will prevail due to the number of unholy altars built and maintained.
When the altar of the Lord is not being maintained or is in disrepair—not functioning properly or even not functioning at all—altars of darkness start to come into the land to fill the void . . . The only way to turn things back around is for someone in the land to rebuild the altar of the Lord. (John Mulinde, “Prayer Altars”)
This means consistent maintenance of a prayer altar through people who give themselves to prayer, worship, repentance, covenant relationship, and walking in holiness as unto the Lord. This is not just another prayer meeting, but an intentional drawing of God’s tangible presence to displace the dark forces at work. To change the atmosphere over a community, it cannot happen in one congregation or under one leader. If that would work, we would have seen changes by now!
This is a lifestyle of building and maintaining prayer altars of His presence throughout the city and throughout the week, both personally and corporately. In small home groups, prayer ministries, or an intentional time of prayer in community gatherings, God is looking to establish a place of His presence in homes, churches, cities, and regions on a consistent basis. This means pursuing God, not as some spiritual discipline, but with a deep-felt heart cry, pressing in through worship and prayer until His presence overshadows us.
For those who are not accustomed to this kind of focused and intimate prayer, it can start by incorporating times of intercession in a weekly service. If congregations are to be houses of prayer as Jesus commanded, pastors can nurture this value during corporate services in various ways: take time during the service to pray for specific needs in the community, pray for one another at the altar, invite intercessors to lead out at appointed times, pray for other churches in the city, and corporately recite prayers from Scripture.
Intercessory groups can be encouraged to pray before services and congregants can be invited to submit prayer requests for further prayer during the week. Until we establish prayer as a core value of our faith, we will not mature into the deeper things of God, nor position ourselves to encounter His presence.
Unless believers establish and maintain prayer altars unto the Lord throughout their city, the adversary will continue to establish unholy altars that draw the forces of darkness. These altars of humanism, paganism, cultism, and other counterfeit practices attract the enemy and block the flow of God’s presence. We must pray for a divine strategy to stir us to action and inspire other believers in our Churches and community in establishing these prayer altars. May our hearts burn with a passion to keep the fires going on the altars of prayer and worship to make room for God’s presence to descend upon our cities.
- Excerpt from my upcoming book to be released February 18, “Moving From Sword to Scepter: Ruling Through Prayer as the Ekklesia of God.”