Incensed at Incense
Except for times I’ve attended services in the Catholic Church, I have never sat through a worship service where they burned incense. We evangelicals take pride in worshipping God in spirit only. We shun rituals. But I wonder if we miss out on some of the ancient trappings of worship that enriched the faith experience of Christians long ago. The burning of incense is not owned by the new age movement and it’s not esoteric in Christianity. It is mentioned several times throughout the Bible.
The sweet fragrance of burning incense is symbolic of the prayers of Christians offered up to God in heaven. In Psalms 141:2 (NLT) it says, “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.”
Prayer is an act of worship. Our prayers have a pleasant aroma to the nose of God. I believe all wholesome prayers please God, no matter how refined. Even so, it’s really cool when we begin to think of the words, and their arrangement, in our prayers as works of art.
Now that I’m well on the way to sixty, I don’t feel the need to pray for physical needs as much. Not because I’m rich or in perfect health. I am not. But because I feel a growing desire to simply experience God’s mercy and grace without tossing up a laundry list of needs. Yes, I know God cares very much about my needs. I simply want to make sure God knows how much I appreciate all he has done for me, a sinner.