Many, if not all, of us recognize our need of revival. But how do we personally receive it? We will cover the foundation of it here: morning and evening worship. The other parts of the personal revival plan we will cover after this are the life of prayer (unceasing prayer throughout the day), memorizing Scripture, and fasting combined with more prayer.
Many people for morning and evening worship have a mechanical experience of shallow prayer and mainly reading. But this is not what we are referring to for true morning and evening worship. Though we do provide a general reading plan here, the emphasis is really on worship, which we do through different forms of prayer.
The Origin of Morning and Evening Worship
To find the origin of morning and evening worship we must go to the Torah (Law), or Pentateuch, beginning with Genesis.
The Family Altar
We must first establish the biblical model for what we call the “family altar”. Now, the family altar might have a physical aspect to it; it might have an altar table with a family Bible sitting on it. We have such a thing set up in a portion of a room that we dedicated to God for worship. We highly recommend having a sacred place that you worship at in the house as a family if at all possible, but it is also a real blessing to have special places that you meet with God out in nature individually, as the Son of God practiced. Weather and pests do not always permit, which is often the case here in Minnesota, so that is why I often have my personal devotions at the family altar as well.
So, let us explore this concept of the family altar in the Bible. Let us go to Genesis 12, where we see the family altar set up by Abraham in verses 7 to 8. Abraham is going into the typical promised land and he sets up an altar; here it is:
And Jehovah appeared unto Abram, and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land”: and there he built an altar unto Jehovah, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he built an altar unto Jehovah, and called upon the Name of Jehovah.
Abraham’s family is the archetype of all the families of Israel. When they went into the Promised Land, this altar was set up. And when they neglected this altar, the whole nation suffered. But when they restored it, the nation prospered. So, that is a lesson to us. When we neglect the family altar, God may permit calamities to come upon us. His intention in His judgments is to bring people back to Him, back to life, through His Word.
The Family Unit
Let us now go to Genesis 18:19. We have established the family altar and now let us study the family unit.
For I know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Jehovah, to do justice and judgment; that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.
So, the household is the family unit and is established here in the Law. It can only be commanded unto justice and judgment by God’s Word. The man of the household is the priest of the home and he instructs his family in the way of Jehovah according to His Word. He also consecrates the family to God through their collective worship, whereby they may receive the blessings of God and be protected from curses of calamities and worldliness.
This is the foundation of the intricate Levitical sanctuary system that was later implemented for corporate Israel, being based on the Abrahamic family unit with its family altar. To Abraham was the everlasting covenant promised; thus, the organized system of the Law that came later is founded on it and not against it.
The Sacrificial System
So, let’s talk briefly about the sacrificial system. The priesthood that performed the sacrifices, particularly the High Priest, was representative of the whole nation of Israel. It was a representative system. The economy then was the earthly sanctuary; now we have the economy of the heavenly sanctuary. We have lessons to learn with duties enjoined upon us from this system in the Law. The priesthood represented all of the people that worshiped at the appointed times for worship, including the mornings and evenings, for they could not all go to the temple each day or even each Sabbath.
But the priesthood did not represent all of Israel so that they would not have to worship morning and evening; they only represented what they were all doing—worshiping God. So, the altar in the sanctuary represented the altars of all the households of Israel. They all faced towards Jerusalem when they prayed at these times. The Spirit of Prophecy describes this further and explains how it applies today:
As the priests morning and evening entered the holy place at the time of incense, the daily sacrifice was ready to be offered upon the altar in the court without. This was a time of intense interest to the worshipers who assembled at the tabernacle. Before entering into the presence of God through the ministration of the priest, they were to engage in earnest searching of heart and confession of sin. They united in silent prayer, with their faces toward the holy place. Thus their petitions ascended with the cloud of incense, while faith laid hold upon the merits of the promised Saviour prefigured by the atoning sacrifice.
The hours appointed for the morning and the evening sacrifice were regarded as sacred, and they came to be observed as the set time for worship throughout the Jewish nation. And when in later times the Jews were scattered as captives in distant lands, they still at the appointed hour turned their faces toward Jerusalem and offered up their petitions to the God of Israel. In this custom Christians have an example for morning and evening prayer. While God condemns a mere round of ceremonies, without the spirit of worship, He looks with great pleasure upon those who love Him, bowing morning and evening to seek pardon for sins committed and to present their requests for needed blessings.
— E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 353
This comes from the chapter entitled “The Tabernacle and Its Services,” which I recommend reading.
The daily/continual sanctuary system passed away, and the reality of spiritual sacrifices has come; but the same worship times remain—morning and evening for individuals and families, and Sabbaths, New Moons, and holy days when the body of the Messiah comes together for assembly (Col. 2:16).
Private prayer, family prayer, prayer in public gatherings for the worship of God—all are essential.
— E.G. White, 7 Testimonies, p. 239
In this study we are focusing on morning and evening worship. The other worship times will be covered in the upcoming books Seventh Month Revival and Discovering Mysteries of the Lost Calendar, with the latter also providing more information on when “morning” and “evening” are based on the Scriptures, as well as information on the other apostolic prayer times, such as sixth and ninth hour and when they are. In Numbers 28 and 29, morning and evening are the foundation of all other worship times, coming before them:
And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto Jehovah; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even.
— Numbers 28:3-4