And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. Exodus 30:1, 6-7
We like good scents, smell good things and be in an atmosphere that permeates with lush and aromatic vapors. There is something about exotic, sweet scents that get our attention and can even change our mood.
There is also something to be said about odors and smells that are not so pleasant. Visit any fast food establishment or other eatery, and you will find upon leaving, your clothes and hair will retain the smells and odors of the ionized food grease and smoke circulating in that atmosphere. This may not be so good depending on where you eat.
Now, this is going somewhere. The Bible tells us that one duty of the High Priest was to burn incense on the altar of incense every morning in the Tabernacle. However, this was not ordinary incense, but a God-ordained, specially formulated mixture of spices that was to be completely dispersed upon a fiery golden hearth. The incense was only to be used in God’s worship place and nowhere else. The Lord knows what he is doing.
In essence, the Tabernacle’s tapestries, coverings, the veil, even the High Priest and his assistants, all smelled like one glorious Yankee Candle store. The burning incense filled the room and latched onto its furnishings and occupants with an exotic fragrance that was unmatched anywhere in Israel.
We are sure that the Israelites encamped outside the Tabernacle could tell (without even looking) who administered in the Tabernacle; they could smell them. That aromatic, sweet fragrance from the Tabernacle stayed with its occupants and was detectable to those on the outside.
The New Testament shows us that the burning of incense in the Tabernacle was an Old Testament type and shadow of prayer and intercession.
You know, people can tell when you really pray and touch God; they can sense it in your spirit. The exotic and fragrant anointing that envelopes one after a fiery prayer encounter can only originate from a holy place, a place like nowhere else found on earth.
As with the burning of incense in the Tabernacle, prayers are limited unless they reach a flashpoint, a place where they are released from the gravitational pull of sin and reach the corridors of heaven:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16
The words “effectual fervent” is translated from the Greek word: energeo; which is defined as something active or powerful. Prayers falling into this category are going to make a difference.
Jesus prayed these kinds of prayers. How do we know? His disciples were so astounded by his praying that they probed Jesus for deeper understanding and saw it fitting to let the rest of us know how much they impacted them:
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…. Luke 11:1
The Bible tells us that God takes notice of those prayers and stores them for safekeeping:
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. Revelation 5:8
In conclusion, never think that your prayers are not making it past the ceiling. Time spent in a prayer closet is time well spent. It will make a difference in your life, the life of others and to the mighty God whom we serve.
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalms 141:2