As I walk through the pages of the bible with my Bethel classmates I am amazed at what I am finding there! Oh- it’s always been there-I just haven’t been walking there. This past week we looked at the Tabernacle. Oh my! The Tabernacle gives me much joy! In studying more about it I have been able to have a clearer understanding of how and why we do some of the things we do in our own sanctuaries. The Tabernacle was a Holy place. A place where God came down from heaven to live. It was only to be entered by the Priest and there were many rituals that had to be performed before he could enter. God required absolute cleanliness, holiness and purity when approaching the Tabernacle.
We see this same thing in our sanctuaries today. Everything has it’s place. There is a certain order to worship and there are rituals that we perform as well. I now understand where all this comes from. In understanding what the Tabernacle was I have a new found reverence and respect for some of the things that we do. At the same time I am not going to get upset if some0ne spills juice on the floor or gets a little messy in their pew. Things happen-they can be cleaned up. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try to be careful-we should, but there has to be a balance.
One of the things that struck me in learning more about the Tabernacle was the Golden Incense Altar. The priest had to burn incense at this altar in the morning and at twilight. The burning incense represents our prayers. ( Rev 5:8)
Revelation 5: 6-8
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.
Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
What is prayer?
Communicating with God. It is different for everyone and no two people pray the same way. How we do it doesn’t matter as long as we do it. We don’t have to be in church, on our knees, to talk to God. We can be-but that’s not a requirement. God desires to have a relationship with us and one way we do this is by conversing with him. We can do this anywhere, at anytime. I have a habit of talking to God most of the day wherever I am. It’s like a running conversation in my head all the time. There are times when I take prayer walks through the woods or the neighborhood. My favorite place is in the woods though. I experience God more fully in nature. A lot of people do. Other times I kneel in prayer at church or in private. Sometimes I lay prostrate on the floor. I cry, I laugh, I yell, but mostly I just talk. When I am done I observe, I read scripture, I sing, I listen or I am still and silent. There’s no right or wrong way to pray.
Our prayers should be like the perpetual incense that the priest was required to burn at the altar for the people. The burning incense represented the priest pleading for his people. For whatever reason that touches somewhere deep inside my heart and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about those prayers. I think about Jesus as he prayed that heart wrenching prayer in the garden of Gethsemane and how he cried out for us from the cross, “Father Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Wow. I think about all the prayers that are being sent up tonight for the lost, the sick and the dying. Oh how God must weep for his people.
We should pray unceasingly-never letting our cries, groans or whispers come to a halt. Somewhere out there is someone in need of prayer. Someone who can’t pray, doesn’t know how to pray, or even feels unworthy of prayer. What they don’t know is that our prayers are being preserved in heaven in golden bowls-as incense. A pleasing aroma to the Lord. Each one uttered has been heard before ever leaving our lips.
Thank you Father, thank you. May your will be done and not mine.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Numbers 6: 24-26
“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
In Christ’s precious and merciful love-