The psalmist likened prayer to incense in Psalm 141:2.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
When revealing his vision, John wrote in reference to the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, “Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” (Revelation 5:8)
God told Moses to instruct Aaron and sons to burn fragrant incense as part of their priestly responsibilities. Exodus 31:7-8 tells us they were to burn the incense every morning, then again every evening “so incense would burn regularly before the Lord for generations to come.”
We all know what prayer is. It’s that moment when we are faced with a hardship, or a decision, or are in need of healing and we cry out, “Help me, Lord!” And if you are His child, He does.
Or prayer is that quick thank you we blurt out before the food gets cold. Prayer may be a sigh of relief when you have a near-miss on the highway.
I’m not down-playing any of that. God wants us to come to Him with our struggles, and our praise. He delights in answering our prayers according to His riches in glory. But I am reminded today that prayer is not just about me, or even about those for whom I pray.
Prayer is about God.
Scripture tells us our prayers are like a sweet perfume to our Lord. Our prayers are pleasant, maybe even precious to God. After all, the verse in Revelation implies God keeps our prayers in a bowl, like someone who presses a rose in the pages of book in order to preserve it.
God created us to fellowship with Him. When was the last time you actually did that? Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who wasn’t speaking to you? You can hardly call that fellowship.
God told the priests to light the incense in the morning and evening so it would burn regularly. Have you lit your incense yet today? Will you light it again tonight?
Paul tells us to never stop praying. (I Thessalonians 5:16) That constant communication with God is so important, and what a privilege! But it doesn’t take the place of a stop-what-you-are-doing-heart-to-heart conversation with the One who loves you best.
God considers those times of prayer precious. Talk to Him.