I sit this morning in my prayer closet with the crisp air’s embrace, the sweet chirping of birds in the garden and the delightful smell of frankincense. This is a gift. For me alone, I imagine, it seems the world has only just awoken. The celebration of God’s glory has begun and all the earth cries out His praise. I sit in awe.
Ever watch the fruit of incense make its way ever so gently and purposefully upward? I’m not sure I can call that a pastime, but I can easily lose awareness of my surroundings as I watch the smoke flip and twirl about, rising higher and higher without hesitation. The Bible and the pages of history and cultures long past and present take care to include the burning of incense. The Bible refers to the fruit of incense as a fragrant offering to the Lord. The Holy of Holies, in fact, housed a “golden altar of incense” next to the ark of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4). Burning fragrant incense was part of the levitical priests’ duties. They were to burn it in the morning and at twilight.
When I think of incense, I remember it as the vehicle of prayer. The book of Revelation paints this picture:
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3-4)
Regardless of the emotion behind my prayers, whether it be desperation, urgency, thanksgiving, or joy, I know they are carried upward into the hand of God, my Peace. This is a gift. I sit in awe.