Prayer Life: Lesson from Incense

Exodus 30

“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.”
V7-8

One of the daily routine for the High Priest back then was to burn incense on the Altar of Incense.
Every morning and evening, he would use the censer/fire pan to collect hot coal from the Altar of Burnt Offering.
He then placed the burning coal on the Altar of Incense and added incense powder onto it.
The burnt incense produced sweet smelling aroma which filled the entire room.

And the Lord said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each.
And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.”
V34, 36

Of particular interest was the incense.
It was mixture of stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense ground into fine powder.
In the Bible, incense represents prayer (Psalm 141:2).

What lesson can we learn from incense that we may have a great prayer life?

Leaving aside stacte and onycha as their exact identity is not known, we can learn from galbanum and frankincense.
How do we get incense from galbanum and frankincense?
First, part of the plant has to be slashed or cut down. Then, the resin will ooze out and harden.
This hardened resin is often called “tear”.

Now, a plant does not have nervous system to register tissue damage as pain.
Nevertheless, let us imagine for a moment: if the plant could speak and feel, wouldn’t it scream in pain when it is slashed or cut down?

What does it have to do with our prayer life?

Many times when life is smooth and easy, we tend to slack in our prayer.
Or perhaps, we may stop praying altogether as we are too busy with life.
God may then allow us experience hardship that we may stir up our prayer life.
The hardship can be so painful that we even pray in “tears”
Difficulty can be God’s way of reminding us to pray, and pray more earnestly.

“You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.”
V9

God ordered Israelites to prepare the right kind of incense.
He clearly forbid strange incense which could mean incense with the wrong or missing composition or if there was a strange ingredient on the incense.

Just like God forbid and would not accept strange incense, there are prayers which God will not accept.
While there maybe various reasons for that, one absolute reason God will not heed prayer is when we mix our prayer life with sinful life (Ps 66:18).

How is our prayer life?
Do we pray earnestly?
Do we pray out of pure heart?

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Posted June 25, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

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