Joel 2 – “Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they among the people say, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17-NAS)
The altar of burnt offering was where the priests used to stand in the Temple and do service. That changed. They were called to weep and pray between that and the porch of the temple, where they might be seen and heard by the people in the outer court. Yes, we have closets we can pray in, but He didn’t ban us to that location!
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” That isn’t just preaching. People can hear the word of God through our praying. Most of us know we don’t pray in front of people so WE can be heard, but He speaks through our voices if we open our mouths. We do these things so HE can be heard, His heart can be revealed.
Our time of prayer isn’t just for us as individuals, and there is a time for our prayer closets, but there’s also a time to pray as a group with our brothers and sisters. What you pray may effect a change I need in my life, and vice-versa. You may be hearing something in prayer that might guide me if I can hear it.
This verse is in the context of the Lord telling HIS people (and I think some of it can apply today) to return to Him with all their hearts, with fasting, weeping and mourning. He told them to rend their hearts and not their garments. God pays attention to what is going on inside of us! He describes Himself as gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of disaster! Maybe someone who hears, or sees us walking our lives in repentance will change their mind, which is an act of repentance in itself. God told them to blow the shofar in Zion, to proclaim a holy fast, and to call for a solemn assembly. We go to church weekly because that’s what we do, but God may call for us to gather with a specific purpose!
Continuing in the context of Joel, God told them to gather all the people…the children, the nursing babies, and get this…. He told the bridegroom to leave his room and the bride the bridal chamber, the private locations (like our prayer closets). He even told them what to say…sometimes we don’t know what to say or pray! HE will tell us. Are we hearing? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” We should if we’re His sheep. God told His people if they did what He said, to not fear and be glad. Food would be plentiful for them. They would have the right amount of rain. He would restore to them the years that the locusts, grasshoppers, shearer-worms and cutter-worms had eaten. Note that He called them HIS great army that He’d sent against them. His people would be satisfied, and they would never again be shamed.
We may not be physically in Zion, but we are living in the last days. A time where God said He would pour out His Spirit on all humanity. His sons and daughters will prophesy, old men will dream dreams, young men will see visions. He would show wonders in the sky and on the earth—blood, fire and columns of smoke. He said the sun would turn to darkness, the moon to blood before the coming of the great and terrible Day of Adonai. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
So get out of those closets when He says go! Weep and pray between the porch and the altar…people need to hear. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! You might even be surprised that when you pray those spirit-led prayers, your faith may grow! We pray for others, but prayer is for us as individuals, too. Remember, it’s not you they’re hearing, it’s His voice in you if you’re a spirit-led son or daughter of God! One way or the other, whether it’s through a donkey, a rock, or through us, He is going to be heard and glorified! Let it be through us, Father!