by Tammy Phillips
July 20, 2021
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2 NKJV)
Sweet smells are intoxicating and stimulating . A sweet aroma makes a powerful impression. A pleasant fragrance can remind you of an old flame, a happy time, or take you to a happy place. Think of chocolate chip cookies baking in an oven or grandma’s buttery biscuits. Incense was the sweet smell offered to the Lord in the Old Testament. It is a picture of prayer. The golden altar of incense in the tabernacle of God was carefully constructed from specific instructions. A recipe for the sweet-smelling incense was given and could only be prepared for the altar. Each morning and night the high priest would add to the fire and refill the incense so that the sweet smoke would continually ascend to heaven. As the High Priest completed his assigned duties, and the sweet smoke rose, Israel was reminded that the High Priest was ever offering prayers on their behalf.
The Holy Spirit is the fire in our lives that kindles our prayers. We are encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” In Revelation 5:8 we find that in heaven there are golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
As incense on the golden altar was carefully prepared with very specific ingredients. It was kindled with holy fire, and presented to God the same way, everyday morning and night.
When we intercede, we are entering the presence of the King of Kings. He has set aside or appointed time to meet with us. We should come before Him in reverence and awe. We should not take it lightly nor for granted. Prayer is serious time. It is time to go to work with our Father who is Owner, President and Chief Executive Officer of everything.
We throw the word prayer around like it is a cliché. Jesus our High Priest made and paid our way without sinning, so that we now can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4:16)
We have the freedom to speak to the CEO of Everything with confidence and frankness. We have a place before Him, and we belong there because of our position in Christ. However, we would never meet with our boss or make a presentation at school before a teacher, or without first preparing for it. We cannot make dinner or build a house without preparation. Prayer is the same. As David said, It must be “set forth” before the Lord in reverential admiration not in awless disrespect. “Set forth” is the Hebrew word meaning, to be erect, stand upright, arranged, directed, ordered, put right, be prepared, made ready, be firm, stable, established, fixed and securely determined. This is a picture of a house built on pillars, firmly established.
We have an obstacle before us. We make an appointment to meet with our boss for his advice. We go into the meeting distracted, unfocused and ill prepared. During the meeting, we look at our phone, make a few texts, and even file our nails, too. How do you think that meeting will go? However, if we go into the meeting confident, determined and prepared to present our case, don’t you think we would garner our employer’s attention? Which scenario is going to leave a sweet smell with the chief?
“Prayer is knowing work, believing work, thinking work, searching work, humbling work, and nothing worth if heart and hand do not join in it.” —Thomas Adam, 1701-178
I enCOURAGE you to work with the Lord. Give Him something to work with. Offer the sacrifice of prayer without ceasing. Be directed and specific with your prayers. Prepare and align your prayers with the word of God, so they will be like sweet incense before Him. Do not meet with the Lord distracted by the tasks of the day, nor more focused on the problem than the Solution sitting before you. May your prayers be counted as incense and captured in the golden bowls of incense in heaven.