May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.Psalm 141:2(NASB)
The thought of our prayers ascending to the Lord in heaven in the cool of the evening, as a sweet-smelling fragrance to our Heavenly Father, is most beautiful to contemplate.
As a child calls out to his attentive father for help, or as a mother strains to hear and respond to the cries of her nursing child, so the ear of the Lord is ever open to the feeble cries of His children.
The psalmist desires that his prayers are well-pleasing to the Father - and that his humble petitions and heart-felt praise rise up to into heaven as a sacrifice of praise and a sweet-smelling savour to God, as hands are lifted up in worship, thanksgiving and pleading supplications.
It was David that penned the words of this Psalm, who was calling on the Lord to protect him, and to help him speedily. There are times when God's help is a long time coming, but David had an urgent need that required immediate attention and his words reflected the urgency, as he cried out, "O Lord, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You!"
But his prayer was also presented as a love-offering to the Lord - a sacrificial prayer and offering of praise, and David wanted his sacrifice of prayer and praise to be holy, and acceptable to the Lord. "May my prayer be counted as incense before You." he pleaded, "May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening offering."
David was a man after God's own heart, because he loved the Lord and trusted Him. His thoughts were ever towards the Lord and he compared the prayers he offered in the twilight hours to the smoke of sweet-smelling incense of the evening sacrifice. He likened his prayers to the sacrificial perfume that ascended heavenward at the close of each day.
While David is a lovely example of a man that honoured the Lord and desired that his prayers be counted as sweet-smelling perfume ascending to the Lord each evening, there is no more beautiful example of a living sacrifice, that was holy and acceptable unto the Lord than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. His entire life and sacrificial death was the perfect example of a sweet-smelling savour ascending to His Father, as He presented His prayers in the morning and lifted His heart to heaven at the time of the evening sacrifice.
Throughout His earthly life, the Lord Jesus was set forth as incense-offering to the Lord. His entire life exuded a beautiful fragrance that was well-pleasing to the Father. From birth to death - from His manger to the cross, His life was a sweet-smelling perfume that delighted His God, and He found favour with God and man. Early each morning, Jesus would come to His Father in prayer, and at the close of the day, His greatest joy and delight was to rest in the presence of His Father and enjoy sweet commune with Him.
His was a life of faith, a life of prayer, a life of praise, a life of worship - a life of sacrifice. His heart was ever open to His Heavenly Father and His prayers were constantly seen as sweet-smelling incense, as together they enjoyed the depth of fellowship that no one else could ever imitate.
His was a life that from the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, demonstrated a holy life that, "was set forth as incense before the Lord." Although He was fully God, Jesus lived His life as fully man, to set us the perfect example of how God wants all of His children to live. Christ demonstrated that God's children are to live in spirit and truth, to walk in spirit and truth, and to pray, praise, worship and reverence our Heavenly Father in spirit and in truth, in love and in grace.
As incarnate God, Jesus laid aside His glory and power to live His entire life in the way that God desires every man and woman born from above to conduct their lives. The Lord Jesus demonstrated that we too can be set forth as incense before Him, if we too live, work, worship, and pray into the will of the Father, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Loving Father, thank You for the example of the Lord Jesus, Who lived a life that was set forth as incense before You. In the power of Your Spirit, I pray I may cease from my own efforts to follow the perfect example of Jesus, Who only did what He heard from You, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Help me to live a life that is a sweet-smelling perfume before You, through the power of the Holy Spirit. All praise and worship be to You forever and ever. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.