The Incense of Prayer

“LORD, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee. Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:1-2 (KJV)

Within the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the temple of Solomon just outside the veil of the temple which separated the table of shewbread, the menorah, from the ark of the covenant there also stood the altar of incense; made of gold.  It offers us a picture of prayer and approaching the GOD of glory, coming into His presence.

I will let Matthew Henry comment on these verses today, and pray they are a blessing to you.

David loved prayer, and he begs of God that his prayers might be heard and answered, Psa_141:1, Psa_141:2. David cried unto God. His crying denotes fervency in prayer; he prayed as one in earnest. His crying to God denotes faith and fixedness in prayer. And what did he desire as the success of his prayer? 1. That God would take cognizance of it: “Give ear to my voice; let me have a gracious audience.” Those that cry in prayer may hope to be heard in prayer, not for their loudness, but their liveliness. 2. That he would visit him upon it: Make haste unto me. Those that know how to value God’s gracious presence will be importunate for it and humbly impatient of delays. He that believes does not make haste, but he that prays may be earnest with God to make haste. 3. That he would be well pleased with him in it, well pleased with his praying and the lifting up of his hands in prayer, which denotes both the elevation and enlargement of his desire and the out-goings of his hope and expectation, the lifting up of the hand signifying the lifting up of the heart, and being used instead of lifting up the sacrifices which were heaved and waved before the Lord. Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice; it is the offering up of the soul, and its best affections, to God. Now he prays that this may be set forth and directed before God as the incense which was daily burnt upon the golden altar, and as the evening sacrifice, which he mentions rather than the morning sacrifice, perhaps because this was an evening prayer, or with an eye to Christ, who, in the evening of the world and in the evening of the day, was to offer up himself a sacrifice of atonement, and establish the spiritual sacrifices of acknowledgement, having abolished all the carnal ordinances of the law. Those that pray in faith may expect it will please God better than an ox or bullock. David was now banished from God’s court, and could not attend the sacrifice and incense, and therefore begs that his prayer might be instead of them. Note, Prayer is of a sweet-smelling savour to God, as incense, which yet has no savour without fire; nor has prayer without the fire of holy love and fervour.

from Matthew Henry Commentary e-Sword edition

Now the veil has been taken away by the cross, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  You have access to the very throne of God through Christ Jesus.  Our prayers are still as sweet incense unto the Father in heaven (Revelation 8:4).