Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. ~Psalm 141:2
Have you ever been in a room or setting where a woman who is wearing a very fragrant and sweet-smelling perfume enters in? It is amazing how the scent of the perfume overtakes the atmosphere and brings a heightened sense of freshness and sweetness to the entire atmosphere. It affects the mood of the room, even to where there is a cheerfulness and positive ambience. This morning, we want to consider how our prayers are compared to sweet-smelling incense.
There is the concept of the incense.
The concept of the burning of incense was instituted in Exodus 30 with the plans for the construction of the tabernacle. Aaron and his sons were to burn sweet incense every morning and evening when the lamps were to be lit. It was part of a daily ritual associated with the fellowship and worship of God. Every morning and evening, Aaron would make sure that the lamps of the tabernacle were trimmed, sufficient oil was available as fuel for the lamps, and incense was offered in golden censers. The incense would give off a sweet, wonderful smell that would alert those who were near the tabernacle that the high priest was at work.
There is the concoction of the incense.
The incense was composed of certain flowers and aromatic plants that had a sweet smell to them when they were burned. It was to be beaten small so that it would burn well. This is a reminder of how small we must become for God to hear us. When all the ingredients of the incense were mixed in the golden censer and then a fire was put to it, the smoke and smell of it permeated the entire tabernacle area. The clothing of the high priest would be consumed with the smell of it. There was to be no deviation in the preparation of the incense.
There is the commandment concerning the incense.
It was to be burned every morning and evening. There was no exception to this. Moses commanded that it was to be a perpetual incense. It would be practiced every day and in every generation. When we read about Zacharias in Luke 1, it is said that his lot was to burn incense, and the people stood outside praying. The priest and the people had a high level of reverence for the worship of God when incense was burned. The smell of the incense brought everyone into a motivated sense of time with God.
There is the comparison regarding the incense.
The burning of incense speaks eloquently to us about our praying. We are commanded to pray. We are commanded to pray without ceasing. Our praying must be scented and pleasing to God. God delights in the prayers of his people as He did with the continuous offering of the incense. Our praying should be earnest and heartfelt. Our praying should be morning and evening. As Aaron and the priests were expected to pray as they burned the incense, it is expected that God’s servants and people are to pray. Just as the incense had to be beaten small, we must humble ourselves and make ourselves small before God. Just as the incense was freshly prepared every day, our praying must be free of vain repetitions and dead formality. Our praying must let God know that we need Him more than the day before. Just as it was not to be incense that was strange or unacceptable, our lives are to be cleansed from sin when we approach the Lord. Just as fire had to be applied to the incense for it to burn and give off its sweet smell, we need the fire of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to stir us in our supplications. Just as the incense was pleasing in its smell, our praying most pleases God when it is done in faith and in submission to His holy will.
What does your praying smell like to God? Does it smell like old incense or sweet incense? Is it pleasing to Him? Is it praying that is well-received?
Have a prayerful God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Timothy 1-3