I lifted the lid of the suitcase, and a gentle aroma of wood smoke emanated from it. We’d stayed overnight in a B&B that had been a railway station house, and still used the wood burner for their heating. The smell of it subtly pervaded the whole house there, and unknowingly I’d transported home a little of the fragrance with me: a delightful souvenir of perfume in my suitcase.

Incense has played a large part in many religious expressions throughout the history of mankind, and here we find it, in Exodus 30:1-10. God instructed that an altar be made just for burning incense, and that it should be burnt morning and evening, twice a day, for perpetuity. This altar was to stand immediately in front of the curtain, the veil to the holy of holies, wherein was the very presence of God. As the pan of burning coals was brought, and the sticks of incense placed over them, clouds of billowing smoke would waft out the sweet perfume and pervade the atmosphere. Those who stayed there for any length of time would themselves take on the aroma.

Those rising clouds signified prayer. Prayer: the entrance to the presence of God. Prayer: thoughts rising and curling and making their way to the heart of God. Prayer: offered regularly with discipline and intention, yet pervading every part of life.

But what use would the incense be without the flame underneath it? Cold, it gives off no perfume; no rising of mists to heaven, no aroma to cling and remind you. Purposeless. And so too, cold prayer is ineffectual. Just praying because you should, because it’s the routine is largely unproductive. Lukewarm prayer is not enough to cling around us throughout the day, to impact those around.

We need the flame of the Holy Spirit to set us alight, to make our prayers alive and active. I want my prayer life to make a difference to my whole life, and to the lives of all who come into contact with me. I want to pray with a Holy Passion.

Pray this if you dare:

Holy Spirit, I reject my lukewarmness and submit myself completely to you. Fill me afresh, and make me satisfied with nothing but your full-on power that changes my life and impacts those around me. Set me alight to live for you. I’m yours.

Exodus 30:1-10

Exodus 30:1-10


About widemargin

Retired special needs teacher, now full time carer for a wonderful person with Advanced Parkinson's Disease. 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.' So glad I have my Lord Jesus to help me through every day.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Exodus, faith, prayer, relationship with God, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Consumed

  1. Agent X says:

    I really like what you wrote here. I became confirmed Catholic a few years ago after studying some of these passages and considering the incense smoke as prayers AND then attending Mass where I witnessed the incense in worship being wafted toward the crucifix. (That was not the only thing that compelled me, and for that matter, I am a double duty Christian (still protestant too, making me a bad Catholic – Ha!)

    Nevertheless, my experience with prayer has deepened tremendously in recent years. I even wrote a handful of posts about it with an eye to writing more eventually. I certainly did not write the exposition you have, but I think one of my posts gels with your offering here in some important ways. If you are interested, see it here:

    I am glad I found your blog. This blesses me.


    • widemargin says:

      Thanks so much for your comments, and sorry I took a while to get back to you. I wanted to read your post first, and got my first chance just now. You are so right that when we live a ‘safe’ Christian life, our prayer does not have the urgency that comes so easily when we are in a hole! That really challenges me, as I like safe! But I know right now why God had you draw my attention to this, so a very big thank you. Thanks so much for your fellowship and encouragement. 🙂

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