We are not meant to be unresponsive to the beauty of holiness. When God created the earth and all that is therein. He looked at all He had created and behold it was very good. Things that are infinitely beautiful and stir in us deep emotions constantly surround us. And for good reason.
Rom 1:20 (NIV) For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
As we see the created things there is revealed the nature of God. All our senses are involved. Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
2. Prayer as incense
David was a man of prayer. He has left us the treasury of the Psalms wherein we are constantly reminded of our need to pray and so talk to God.
Psa 141:1-5 (NIV) A psalm of David. O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. 2 May my prayerbe set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. 3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. 5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers;
In particular David says in verse two, “Let my prayers be as incense”. This was from a man who was well versed in the priestly worship of the day. He would know about the use of incense in the tabernacle of the Lord.
Lev 16:12-13 (NIV) He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 Heis to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die.
The high priest was to offer this so that he would not die.
Exo 40:26-27 (NIV) Moses placed the gold altar in the Tent of Meeting in front of the curtain and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD commanded him.
Exo 30:7-8 (NIV) Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the LORD for the generations to come.
Psa 55:17 (NIV) Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
Psa 55:17 (KJV) Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
3. The composition of the incense
Exo 30:34 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
This offering was to be Most Holy. Our prayers are also Most Holy and like David we seek to offer prayer that will be a sweet-smelling savour to the Lord God.Our being alive in the spirit comes from God, so the reason we pray is that we die not!
There are five ingredients present when incense is offered. Stacte, onycha, Galbanum, frankincense and fire. Five is the number of grace and prayer is offered always with the basic understanding that He hears us as an act of grace.
Stacte: A plant that grew in the highland of Gilead. (strong, rocky.) From the tree there seeped a creamy substance. This aromatic gum was given up freely by the tree. Our prayers need this spontaneous quality. The flow out from a sincere emotion.
Onycha: A perfumed crab which lived in the deeper waters of the Red Sea. Our prayers also should come from the deeps within. Not superficial surface emotion and thoughts. A welling up from the deep.
Galbanum: A small scrub grown in Syria. When bruised and broken it gave an ointment. A broken and a contrite heart. No room for man’s pride and self seeking in prayer.
Frankincense: A tree which had to be cut in order for the sap to flow. It was harvested in a way similar to the rubber tree. When purified the sap was used in a number of symbolic ways. Notably as an ingredient of the incense but it was also place upon the shew bread in the tabernacle. It is white in colour and speaks of righteousness and purity.
Fire: As the perfume was placed upon the fire its fragrance was loosed.
Exo 3:2 (NIV) There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
Luke 3:16 (NIV) John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Luke 24:32 (NIV) They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
Acts 3:2 (NIV) Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.
We are also to be as bushes that burn and are not consumed. Pray with fervour.