Exodus 30:5-9 NKJV
5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you.
7 “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps [a]at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.
The Holy place contained the table of show bread, the lamp stand and the altar of incense. God was very specific about what was to be done at this altar. It was not for offering burnt offerings, and neither was it for offering a grain nor drink offering. This was an altar specific for offering incense on It and even with that, the incense was specific according to God’s directive. No strange incense was to be burned on this altar except that which God has directed. When the incense was burnt, the smoke rose and filled the room, representing the prayers of the saints. This incense was burned every morning and evening, and it was to be a perpetual incense before the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5 tells us to pray without ceasing. Our prayers should always be rising before God continually just like the incense.
Even when it comes to prayer, we cannot just approach God in whatever manner we like. That could be like offering strange incense. James 4 informs us that we pray a miss because we come to God with a selfish heart, asking only that which will benefit us. That is offering strange incense.
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and that should be a guide for us on how we should approach God in prayer because it is God who sets the rules on how we are to engage with him.
The altar of incense was the closest thing to the veil that led to the Holy of Holies. This tells me that when we pray, and we do it the right way, then we are close to God. This is not just a prayer by anybody, remember we have been on a journey from the outer courts all the way to the holy place. These are the prayers of one who has passed by the bronze altar and had their sins forgiven. They have been washed by the word at the bronze lavar.
How is your prayer life?
What must you do to improve it?
Are you willing to do it?