This is probably one of the most extreme examples of wrenching something out of context from an entirely different type of online source, and a much longer series of articles; but I hope a few of you will pursue this and check out the ministry of George Hartwell, especially if you’re hurting or currently ministering to someone who is hurting. I first met George last month when he was taking a few days apart from his schedule to do some writing and studying in a kind of informal rural retreat. The article is from the website, HealMyLife.com. George is a Christian counsellor in Toronto, Canada.
A Multi-Purpose Prayer of Release
“Put it on the Altar” is versatile: a prayer of release, a prayer of commitment, and an act of worship. It is a prayerful way to release stress. Any work can be put on the altar: the week’s work, a life’s work, one’s ministry, and one’s investment in a person. By doing so you are making it clear that this work has been done “as unto the Lord.” Putting one’s work on the altar frees one from concern of what people think and concern about the results of your effort. So it clears your heart from the fear of man and your mind from lingering on the project.
A person can be put on the altar. It is a prayerful way to release stress. By doing so you are making it clear that you don’t control this person. You have taken your hands off and put them in God’s hands. Putting a person or relationship on the altar should bring a sense of freedom and release. We were made for freedom and when one person clings or controls neither is free.
You can put your heart on the altar with the meaning of putting it into God’s care. This is a good idea. It is especially good when we are heart broken. When we let God hold our broken heart He keeps if from becoming hard. In His care our heart can love again.
Putting on the altar the things that we want to control can free us from tension and anxiety. It we are pushing to control, striving to manage, wound up about things it is not good for our health. Letting go of wanting to control is a way of relaxing. The theme of letting go of our drive to over control as a way of reducing stress is fully explained in “the Power of Letting Go” by Patricia Carrington (1999).
Mental over control can dampen the spontaneous enthusiasm, creativity and wisdom our heart and spirit. When we learn to live more from heart and spirit and less from our head we enter a zone of excellence that the Bible calls “the rest” or “life in the Spirit.” Using more secular language, Timothy Gallwey explores this interesting theme of getting out of mental over control in his books which include “The Inner Game of Tennis”, ‘The Inner Game of Golf” and “The Inner Game of Work.”
You can put your plans (goals, vision, mission, programs) on the altar to surrender them to God and find God’s will for you. To find out if God is calling you to some project surrender the project to God by putting it on the altar. When you picture putting something on the altar the message at the heart level is about taking your hands off, letting and stepping back. God’s response, or non-response, can indicate whether God is in it. God may confirm with the still small inner voice, by an increase in inner joy and enthusiasm, by inner peace about moving ahead, with a clearer vision and creative ideas coming forth. With God’s confirmation and the sense of God’s wind in your sails you can move ahead with confidence and with the sense that you are in partnership with God.
Sometimes pleasing people is a stronger force in our life than pleasing God. That means we fear men more than God. This means that man’s thinking can control us. In fact, others have become our God. We are in idolatry. It could be liberating to put these others that we fear on the altar. Sacrifice them and their approval to God. Let God do a work in your heart. Be free of the fear of man. Be free to serve God alone.
“Put it on the Altar” Prayer of Release
The following steps are instructions for a healing encounter with God through a prayer of release – a let go and let God kind of prayer. Adapt the outline to your purposes as seems appropriate.
You start when you have identified what it is that you want to put on the altar.
Choose some image to represent what you are putting on the altar. For example, your physical heart represents your love and the center and source of your life.
Tell God what you are doing. For example, “Take my heart, loving Father as I put it on your altar. I put my broken heart in your care.”
Picture the altar and the action as you put what represents your concern on the altar.
Stay attentive to this drama as it unfolds. As you put it on the altar what happens? What else do you see and hear? At the end of this symbolic inner action notice how you feel.
You can enter into a dialogue with God. For example if you have trouble letting go you may want to ask God if it is in His hands now. For example: “Heavenly Father, do you have my heart in your hands?” Listen for His answer.
When something significant happens, when something encouraging is heard in a prayer encounter, you will usually have a good feeling inside. It is important to soak in this good feeling, this encouragement and comfort. Take time to receive. Be still and let this feeling soak in. Let your heart feel good.
Let you heart be thankful. Let your spirit rejoice. Thank God. If your putting something on the altar represents a meaningful release and loss then it is health if you are experiencing some grief. See the next topic on Grief and Comfort.
(Optional extension) Ask yourself what implication this has for your life. How does this change your life? How would your life be different now?
Picture how things can be different in your life. What is one thing that would be different? Imagine how that would be. How does that change feel?
Thank God for how this went, for how you feel, and for this can change your life.
Make notes: write down a record of what happened, how you felt and what God said and review this later for discernment and encouragement.