BY JONATHAN PERRY
About the Author
Jonathan Perry has been raised in the Pentecostal movement. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal preacher. Jonathan and his wife Sharon have traveled throughout the United States, Australia and England. They are United Pentecostal Church evangelists.
By Jonathan Perry
*Editors – Fredi Trammell Nel Perry
*Typesetting/Laser Printing Andrew Roomer
*Art – Sharon Perry
‘Special thanks to my Wile, my Mom and Dad, and the Pentecostal Heritage that I have been given.
For Seminars or additional Copies contact:
Jonathan R. Perry
Louisville, KY 40229
The secret of great revivals is found in the way the church meets seekers at the altar. Attitudes, actions and motives, when wrong, can do more harm than good. I have often wished that someone would write a book to help us along this line.
Brother Jonathan Perry has done just that. His years of evangelistic travel qualifies him in a most unique way to write about “altar work.” Those who have had the privilege of watching him, know that he practices what he preaches. When you have put the principles of this manual into effect, you will become “a better altar worker.”
What is an Altar Worker?
Definition: An altar worker is an individual who helps or works with another person, teaching them to respond to the Spirit of the Lord through praise and worship.
Ananias was probably the first altar worker. In Acts 9, the Lord told him to go to Saul. In obedience, he went to Saul and told him, “…the Lord…hath sent me that thou might receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost”
Isaiah 23:4: “Be thou ashamed…saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children.” When we become so unmoved that we do not care enough about souls, to help them pray through to the Holy Ghost, we ought to be ashamed! When Apostle Paul told the church at Galatia: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19), he was saying, “I pray for you: I seek God for you, because I want to help you become obedient to the Spirit of God.” This same desire needs to bum
within us that we might help others receive God’s Spirit.
The altar is the “delivery room” of the church. We witness, teach Bible studies, pray, fast, sing, and preach to bring men, women, and children to a place of commitment; then we stand around stuttering, with question marks in our expressions that say, “WHAT DO WE DO NOW?” The altar worker is a very important person in every revival church.
As an altar worker, we are there to help, to encourage, to pray. When a sinner steps out and goes to the altar, it is good for an altar worker to come right beside him. The longer one is at the altar alone, the more uncomfortable he feels. Don’t stand back or linger in your pew, be there encouraging and helping! There are some who may need more help than others. It is our obligation to see that their needs are met. Step out and begin to create an atmosphere of LOVE, PRAISE, ENTHUSIASM, and FAITH. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Faith is built through quoting scripture to the person seeking for the Spirit of God. As they believe, they shall receive!
A successful altar worker exhibits the following traits: (1) He has a love and a compassion for souls. (2) He has a sensitive spirit. (3) He has a desire to see souls saved. (4) He has a prayer life.
Each of the above traits is a MUST if one is to be an effective altar worker. Anyone without a true love for souls, without a burden, and/or without a personal prayer life is “dead weight” at the altars. Isaiah 68:8: “For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth children.” When we become burdened and begin to do our part, I believe God will fill people with the Holy Ghost as NEVER before!!!
All that God desires is a vessel that is willing to be used.
Taking into consideration that Ned Newcomer probably knows little or nothing about attaining this salvation, it is important to take time to explain the basics of REPENTING, PRAISING, YIELDING, AND RECEIVING. It does not take a Bible Study Chart nor thirty minutes. Explain simply and briefly so that the conviction he feels will not be disturbed.
Ned Newcomer has no idea how to repent. One may have to teach him how to repent. Encourage him to say, “I am sorry Lord; forgive me, Lord.” We must encourage him to continue in repentance until he feels a release. Don’t rush him through this! “If we will confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1st John 1:9). This scripture is reassurance concerning God’s forgiveness. Another good verse that will establish in the heart of a sinner that God does care and will forgive is Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore, that your sins may be blotted out…”
Working with Ned Newcomer is much like praying with a child. He lacks spiritual knowledge. Many people in the world today have minimum contact with prayer, church, and God. This is why we must stay with them throughout their time of prayer.
Praise is the key that gets us into the storehouse of God. Ned Newcomer needs to know that the Holy Ghost is a gift and that nobody has to beg for it. We, as altar workers, must now encourage worship and praise. Here again, Ned Newcomer may need help to know what to say. Don’t be alarmed if he repeats after you. Remember you are the only example he has. Praise is very important. The scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people. We must continually reinforce praise, because praise brings the presence of God near.
As Ned Newcomer praises God with all his heart and as he begins to yield to the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost will come upon him. This is a very important time for the altar worker. He must be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Ghost moves in, and as Ned Newcomer is being filled, he must be encouraged to yield to what he is feeling. Tell him, “Don’t hold back; don’t be frightened at what is happening to you; surrender to the Spirit and God will speak through you.”
After Ned Newcomer has been filled with the Holy Ghost and has spoken with other tongues, you may find that he is at a loss as to what to do next. Ask him to thank God for what has happened and for what God has done in his life. When Ned Newcomer is through praying, never just walk away from him and leave him standing alone. Ask him questions along this line: “Have you ever felt like this before?” “Do you feel like something has changed in your life?” or ‘Would you like to express how you feel?” Be careful not to question him in a manner that might put a doubt in his mind about the experience which he has just received. Let him enjoy it!
Now is the time to talk to him about baptism. Has he ever been baptized? If so, how was he baptized? Quickly, get a Bible and turn to Acts 2:38 and Acts 4:12. Let him read it for himself as you read along with him or carefully point it out to him. Give him a chance to say yes or no. This should only take sixty to ninety seconds. Let Ned Newcomer know that baptism in the Name of Jesus is the completion to the plan of salvation.
These suggestions bring results!
My wife and I were preaching in the south on a particular Sunday night when a young man came in after the service had started and sat on the back pew. As the service progressed this young man began worshipping the Lord. I immediately went back and began to pray with him. Within 15 minutes he had received the Holy Ghost and was speaking with other tongues. He was also baptized that night in Jesus’ Name!
He later said in his testimony that he had only been to church a couple times before that night. Receiving the Holy Ghost doesn’t have to be hard!
Another kind we must work with is Bill Backslider.
Bill has been in the church before. He once had the Holy Ghost and was baptized. He knows what we believe. He knows what is right and what is wrong.
Bill Backslider needs to repent. He needs to be broken and come to God with a contrite heart. Many times we are so excited about him coming back to church and to the altar that we want to “pounce” on him and see him shout. Bill Backslider knows what to do next. When he is ready, he will go on to praising God.
Our job as an altar worker with Bill Backslider is to let him know that we love him and that God loves him. Encourage him concerning the mercy of God. Reassure him of God’s grace. Although we may feel like Bill Backslider won’t “hang In there~, we are not to be the judge. It is our duty to pray with him and to help him. Praise and rejoice in the Lord with him. Encourage him to respond to the Holy Spirit. When Bill Backslider receives that renewing, it may be easy to say, “that’s it!”, but Bill Backslider needs more than speaking with tongues. He needs to break through to complete victory. There are fears, worries, intimidations, and questionings in his mind that need to be overcome. Release from being bound with these things will only happen by the
Spirit and Power of God!
The prodigal son went off to a far country. He spent all that he had. When he found himself on bottom, he woke up and started for home. While he was coming down the road, his father did not stand back and say, “He won’t stay long! He’s no good!” NO! NO! NO! His father ran to meet him and welcomed him home. He wrapped his arms around his son and loved him and encouraged him. After the prodigal son received a new robe and new shoes, what a celebration they had!
Tom Tarrier has been around for a while. He has been around for what seems like “forever”. He has done the same thing night after night, week after week, month after month…and on the story goes. If there is anyone we dread working with, it is Tom Tarrier. We know exactly HOW he will pray. We know exactly HOW LONG he will pray. We know exactly WHAT HE WILL say and WHAT HE WILL NOT say. We know him backward and forward because Tom Tarrier has been doing the same thing for a long time.
One of the main problems with Tom Tarrier is that we have not taken the time to see his problem. There is obviously something that keeps him from receiving God’s gift to him. Something holds him back when he gets to the place of being filled with the Holy Ghost.
I have dealt with a few that were in a rut. They would say the same thing over and over again, swaying from one foot to the other…and on and on. One poor fellow “sought” for the Holy Ghost for 52 years. Revival started and he was still “seeking”. After the first week, he was still “seeking”. Finally, the time came when I went over to see if I could help him. Remember, we must be sensitive to the spirit. With kindness, I began to talk to him. I asked him, “Do you REALLY want the Holy Ghost?” He answered in the positive. “Will you do whatever I ask you to do?” He said that he was willing to do what I asked him to do. First, I got him up from the place where he had been “seeking for 52 years. I began to walk him up and down the aisles. I asked him to wave his arms and jump up and down; and in about ten minutes he was speaking with tongues! What happened? He forgot his routine; he broke from the rut and God did the rest!
A rut, someone said, is a grave with both ends knocked out. Not only is a rut a deterrent to Tom Tarrier, but it is a “killer” for the
individual trying to get him out of the rut!
Some have a problem with their false teeth! EVERY time one certain man would start to speak with tongues, his dentures would slip loose. He solved the problem by removing them; he received the Holy Ghost. There are those who cannot receive the Holy Ghost because of a rebellious attitude. They have a preconceived idea how it will come to them. They have in their minds that they will not receive it any other way.
A very zealous young man came into a church that had of these chronic seeker: He jumped in with all he had! Right up in the seeker’s ear, he started trying to help him. He was doing all that he knew to do in trying to get the gentleman to open up and receive the Spirit. Finally, the gentleman stopped praying and pointedly said to the young man, “Son, I’ve been doing this for twenty years. I ought to know how to receive it by now!” Needless to say, the gentleman did not receive the Holy Ghost that night. We as altar workers must learn how to help these men, women, and children break through these barriers that hold them back.
When Tom Tarrier receives the Holy Ghost, he will speak with tongues just as everyone else does. It is extremely important that, after all this time, he hears himself speak with tongues. No room should be left for doubt. Encourage him to continue speaking with tongues and to receive all that God has for him to be filled to overflowing. Why is this so needed? Satan will come sooner or later and tell him that he still didn’t really receive the Holy Ghost. Tom Tarrier will be able to tell Satan with a surety that he DID RECEIVE the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues!
Many times I ask people who have just received the Holy Ghost to testify. Some may feel this is just for a “show”. I do this because the scripture speaks of being overcomers by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb. Testifying to their new experience helps Ned Newcomer, Bill Backslider, and Tom Tarrier, or whoever start immediately to resist Satan. Testifying helps them overcome Satan’s onslaught of doubt and unbelief.
CAUTION ! ! !
There are some things that we need to heed:
1. Some will not receive the Holy Ghost immediately. Some, sorry to say, will never receive it Do not take this as a personal failure. When you have done all that you know to do, pray that God will give you words to say. Pray that God will open the person’s mind who is in need of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. There are four reasons why people do not receive the holy Ghost:
(a) lack of repentance
(b) lack of faith
(c) lack of desire
(d) lack of freedom
You cannot be responsible for everyone who does not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
2. It is easy for us to get excited and emotional.. We must be careful not to offend those around us.
3. Personal hygiene is a MUST! Bad breath, body odor, spilling, and similar situations can be very distracting.
4. Bodily contact should be kept to a minimum. Tickling, jabbing, poking, punching, shaking, beating, rubbing, etc. will not give people the Holy Ghost. These antics will hinder them!
5. Choose a good posture. If you notice a restlessness, ask the one praying if he would like to stand, sit, kneel, etc.
6. Make sure there is room at the altar for sinners. If you feel your need to pray, fund a place off to the side. Ned, Bill or Tom should easily find a place at the altar to pray.
7. REMEMBER! You are there to pray, NEVER to talk and laugh!
Do not be guilty of distracting a hungry soul.
8. Don’t let these few cautions stop you! GET INVOLVED AND LET US SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD GROW!!
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