Daily D – Psalm 141:2
May my prayer be set before you as incense, the raising of my hands as the evening offering.
PSALM 141:2 (CSB)
What if our prayers were less haphazard?
What if they were more thoughtful, more reflective?
What if we carefully considered each and every word?
What if we were less concerned with saying a lot and more concerned with saying what truly needed saying and stopped there?
Consider the two images in this verse. Incense arrests the sense of smell. It also directs our vision upward.
Of our physical senses, the sense of smell ties closely to memory. Pleasant aromas like bread baking trigger not only hunger but return us to places and times. These memories are often soothing and comforting. They can also work against us.
Some months ago, I ordered samples of a particular product from a brand I trust. Opening those products took me back to a place where I was mistreated and humiliated. I did not purchase any more of those products.
Birthday cakes are not my thing. Apple pie is what I enjoy instead. The first forkful a few weeks ago connected many pleasant memories of years past. The scent of cinnamon and sugar and apples does that to me every time.
What if our prayers were accompanied by such sensations? Memory of prayers long prayed and answered better than we asked would be called to mind. The rising smoke would direct our thoughts upward. It would look like a release of a burden.
Cowboy and cop movies often involve someone raising their hands in surrender. Prayer should be a sweet release for us. It should be a handoff from us to our Father in heaven.
Children often play a bit too hard with their toys and break them. “Daddy, fix it,” is a common petition. Some toys, unfortunately, break beyond repair. A burst balloon is never coming back. Every good dad, however, will do his level best to repair, restore, or replace a broken treasure.
Psalm 23:3 says, “He restores my soul.” Our Father in heaven is in the soul restoration business. He enjoys hearing and answering our plaintive cries that sound like, “Daddy, fix it.”
A more thoughtful and reflective prayer might bring to mind how God has heard and answered our past prayers. This leads us to thanksgiving.
Thoughtful and reflective prayer considers how our Father in heaven will repair, replace, or restore what is damaged or broken. This leads us into faith-filled anticipation.
Silent pondering leading to thanksgiving and personal requests is good praying. More silence, please. More intention. More memory. More reflection. More release.
I will pray more thoughtfully and reflectively.
Our Father, thank you that you fill every hungry heart. Give us ears to hear what you are saying to us today. Give us willing and obedient hearts to do what you say. Give us deep and abiding faith that what you want for us is better than anything we could want for ourselves. Give us the strength we need for all that is before us. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”