Chapter 8:: When You Are Worshiping... Pray!
The Prayers of True Worshipers
Let my prayer be set before You as incense.
He was pleading with God that his prayers would be as disciplined and regular as the offering of incense and burn offerings were required to be according to God's law (Exodus 29:38-30:9)
The Prayers of your heart--
As New Testament worshipers, you and I don't kill and burn animals or incense as a sacrifice to the Lord. But, dear one, we as women after God's own heart are called to offer up a different kind of sacrifice-- that of prayer. We are to lift our prayers to the Lord. We are to offer the "incense" of our prayers. And as you and I both know, that calls for some sacrifice on our part!
Checklist for Prayer--
Sacrifice your carelessness--
Lax attitudes toward God and toward prayer have to go. We must substitute "I'll get around to it ...I'll pray later...I'll pray when I feel like it...I'll pray when it's convenient for me...Catch You next time, Lord!" with a sober-mindedness about what prayer is and to do it with greater planning and more careful preparation. David ordered his prayers, precisely laying them out. And Zacharias prayed at a certain time and in a most reverent and mindful way--in worship!
Sacrifice your sin--
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.
The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
The Eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.
1 Peter 3:12
Sacrifice your heart--
Prayer involves the offering of your emotions and tears. It's a terrible, ugly thing, but when we don't pray, it's easy to become aloof, controlled, cool, and distant. We are unattached, untouched, and uncaring about what is happening around us and about the pain in people's hearts. But when we make the decision to pray, it costs us our hearts. The only way I can describe it is to say that the act of prayer breaks our hearts. Then...then!...our emotions spill over and our tears flow. We are burning the "incense" of our sincere prayers toward the Lord, offering up the sacrifice of our hearts. Scripture tells that "the sacrifices" God is interested in "are a broken spirit, and a broken and a contrite heart"--a crushed heart (Psalm 51:7) Does that describe your heart?
Sacrifice your time--
John Wesley, busy founder of Methodism, spent at least two hours each day in prayer. He is famous for bringing us these challenging words: "I have so much to do that I must spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it."
Samuel Rutherford, seventeenth-century theologian, rose at three o'clock each morning to "wait upon God."
Alexander MacLaren, English clergyman and scholar, wrote that he owed his "success" to the habit never broken of spending one hour a day alone with the Eternal. It was this man who knew well the sweet savor of the perfume of prayers of worship, who wrote, "The Garments of those who pray smell of all the fragrances that grow about the feet of the King."
Martin Luther, German Reformer, testified, "Prayer is the most important thing in my life. If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of my faith."