And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. ~Exodus 30:1
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. ~Revelation 8:3
The burning of incense was an integral part of worship beginning with the construction of the altar of incense. Incense was composed of crushed sweet-smelling spices such as myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, cassia, and oils. The burning of incense is a beautiful picture of the prayers of God’s people.
We see the fraternity.
Aaron, the high priest, and his sons the priests had the responsibility of burning incense. They were qualified by calling and consecration to serve the Lord in this capacity. They are a picture of all of God’s people who are a kingdom of priests unto God. As priests of God we have the holy privilege of coming to God daily in prayer. A priest was expected to pray. Christians are expected to pray. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Paul said, “I will that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands, without wrath, without doubting.” Let us fulfill our office as priests by making sure we spend time in prayer.
We see the frequency.
“And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” Incense was to be burned morning and evening. We are commanded to pray without ceasing. Paul said, “Praying always.” David prayed morning, noon, and evening . Daniel prayed three times a day. Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you.” Praying is to be frequent. We should always be ready to pray. We should designate specific times for prayer and fellowship with God.
We see the fragrance.
The compounds in incense gave it a sweet smell and fragrance. The fragrance was very identifiable as the offering of incense. Incense is a sweet smell and fragrance to God. God is pleased with our prayers. Our prayers are a picture of incense that was offered by the priests. Praying and much praying glorifies God. The longer we spend time in prayer, we realize that we need to do more in letting God know that we love Him. Our worship of God intensifies the longer we spend time in prayer. Our prayer list of people we pray for grows larger the more we pray. Interestingly, the more we pray, the fragrance of our incense attaches to our person and there is a sense that we have been in God’s presence.
The burning of incense beautifully pictures the prayer life of the Christian. Prayer is more than just a soul exercise. We articulate our love to God and enjoy His presence. Much time in prayer leaves a lingering indication that we have been with God. Let the scent and smoke from your praying be holy unto the Lord.
Have a sweet-smelling God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Romans 11-13