• “Have you been tormented with fears and doubts? Bombarded with temptation to sin? Try praising the Lord, and watch Satan flee.” – Nancy DeMoss

Prayer as Incense by Elisabeth Elliot

Prayer is compared in the Bible to incense. “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee,”wrote the psalmist, and the angel who stood b e f o r e   t h e   a l t a r   w i t h   t h e   g o l d e n   c e n s e r   i n Revelation 6 was given incense to mingle with the prayers of the saints. Incense was very expensive, blended by a perfumer according to a strict formula. It appears to serve no particularly useful purpose. Its smoke and fragrance soon dissipate. Couldn’t incense be done without?

Prayer is like incense. It costs a great deal. Sometimes it seems to accomplish little (as we mortals assess things). It soon dissipates. But God likes the fragrance. It was God’s idea to arrange the work of the tabernacle to include a special altar for incense. We can be pretty sure He included all that was necessary and nothing that was unnecessary.

Jesus prayed: He offered thanksgiving, He interceded for others, He made petitions. That the Son—coequal, coeternal, consubstantial with theFather—should come to the Father in prayer is amystery. That we, God’s children, should be notonly permitted but commanded also to come is a mystery. How can we change things by prayer? How can we “move” a sovereign and omnipotent God? We do not understand. We simply obey because it is a law of the universe, as we obey other laws of the universe, knowing only that this is how things have been arranged: the book falls to the floor in obedience to the law of gravity if I let go of it; spiritual power is released through prayer.

I could say, “God can make my hands clean if He wants to,” or I  could wash  them myself. Chances are God won’t make my hands clean. That’s a job He leaves up to me. His omnipotence is not impaired by His having ordained my participation, whether it be in the washing of hands with soap or the helping of a friend with prayer. Jesus Christ redeemed the world by the laying down of His life, a perfect sacrifice, once for all. Yet He is in the business, as David Redding says, of “maintenance and repair.” He lets us participate with Him in that business by the laying down of our own lives.

One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying, in effect, “my life for yours.” My time, my energy, my thought,my concern, my concentration, my faith—here they are, for you. So it is that I participate in thework of Christ. So it is that no work of faith, no labor of love, no smallest prayer is ever lost, but, like the smoke of the incense on the golden altar, rises from the hand of the angel before God.

From the “Notes on Prayer” booklet by Elisabeth Elliot

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  • “My soul was filled and overwhelmed with light, and love, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and seemed just ready to go away from the body. I could scarcely refrain from expressing my joy aloud, in the midst of the service. I had in the mean time, an overwhelming sense of the glory of God, as the Great Eternal All, and of the happiness of having my own will entirely subdued to his will. I knew that the foretaste of glory, which I then had in my soul, came from him, that I certainly should go to him, and should, as it were, drop into the Divine Being, and be swallowed up in God.” – Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards

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Verse of the Day

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. — Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV)

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