"THE FRAGRANCE OF PRAYER"
I. PRAYER IS ONE OF THE GREATEST PRIVILEGES THAT GOD HAS ALLOTTED TO MAN.
A. To think that I can have an audience with the God who created the universe.
1. Not only that, He has invited me to come with my needs and requests any time I desire.
a. God said to Jeremiah "Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show you great and mighty things."
b. To David, God said:
Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
c. In the psalm that we read this morning David said, "I will call on Thee in the day of trouble and You will answer me."
2. Peter encourages us to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us.
3. Let me take that one step further, He delights is spending time with me.
B. Prayer can take many forms.
1. Worship, praise, adoration.
a. Like Mary at the feet of Jesus just adoring Him and communing with Him, sharing her heart.
b. I think that this is one of the highest forms of prayer.
c. Just loving Him and telling Him of that love.
d. As the psalmist said, "I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
e. David said, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."
f. David said: "Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; [for] he is holy."
h. As the hymn writer declared, "Oh the pure delight of a single hour, that before Thy throne I spend, as I kneel in prayer and with Thee my God, I commune as friend with friend."
2. Then there is petition.
a. This is probably the most common form of prayer, where we are seeking the help and guidance of God for our lives.
b. There is nothing wrong with petition. I have real difficulty with those who have such a self righteous spirit, that they say, "I don't ever ask anything for myself."
c. Many people think of prayer only as petition.
a. Praying for the needs of others.
b. Praying for those in authority over us.
c. Praying for our nation.
d. Praying for the missionaries.
4. In the model prayer that the Lord gave to the disciples which is often called the Lord's prayer we see how that it begins with worship and goes into intercession then into petition, and closes again with worship. "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name." (That is worship.) " Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." (That is intercession.) " Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (That is petition.) "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever." (That is worship.)
II. IN THE SCRIPTURES SWEET SMELLING INCENSE WAS USED AS A SYMBOL FOR PRAYER.
A. This is how our prayers are to God, they are as a sweet fragrance.
1. These are the instructions for the high priest when he went into the very presence of God in the most holy place that one day of the year. Yom Kippur.
And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring [it] within the veil:
And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that [is] upon the ark of the covenant, that he die not:
a. The earthly tabernacle was a model of heaven. In the book of Hebrews we are told that it served as an example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he made the tabernacle: See, saith he, [that] you make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
b. That great cloud of fragrant incense that filled the most holy place as the high priest dropped the powered incense on the hot coals was a symbol of how the prayers of the saints are received in heaven.
2. David prayed,
Let my prayer be set forth before thee [as] incense; [and] the lifting up of my hands [as] the evening sacrifice.
B. Our text is the second time that the prayers were associated with incense rising up before the Lord here in Revelation.
1. The first is in chapter 5 as Jesus the Lamb of God takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him who is sitting on the throne,
When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.
a. For almost two thousand years the saints have been praying, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven." In Revelation 5
as the time had come for those prayers to be answered those prayers rise as sweet incense before the Father.
b. These golden censers full of odours are the prayers of the saints.
2. In our text,
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
III. I AM SURE THAT THE GREAT MYSTERY AMONG THE ANGELS, IS MAN'S NEGLECT OF PRAYER.
A. Our reluctance to spend time with God.
1. If we have spare time, we usually do not think of spending it with God. We will pick up a book or turn on T.V. and spend our time in something that is unprofitable, and sometimes worse, things that tear us down and fill our minds with junk.
B. I think another thing that baffles the angels is that people think of prayer only as petition, so the only time they come to God is when they have some desperate need.
C. I think that they are also amazed that we so often think of prayer only as a last resort.
1. If everything else fails, try prayer.
2. As the angels watch us struggling with our problems, they see us scheming, they watch as flail as we drown in our difficulties, and the whole time I think they are asking each other, "Why don't they pray?"
a. Again another hymn writer has caught the essence as he wrote, "Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
3. If we would learn to make prayer our first resort, you would never come to the last resort.
4. Jesus spoke a parable to His disciples in Luke's gospel 18 to the intent, that men ought always to pray and not to faint. Wrap up: A new term has been coined that is used for relationships. It is quality time. They have started talking about the time spent together with our spouses or our children, and they refer to quality time. It describes meaningful time spent with another person. I wonder how long has it been since you have spent quality time with the Lord?