Prayer To Be A Sweet Smelling Sacrifice

A Fragrant Prayer..

Prayer To Be A Sweet Smelling Sacrifice

I have to apologize for missing Friday. I was behind on my writing all week last week. When Friday came, I had planned to spend the afternoon writing, but then our old horse, Bandit came down with a case of colic and we ended up spending hours in the freezing cold walking him until around 10:30 pm that evening. He’s doing much better now!

A Time to Clean: Day 15

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.

So, how’s your prayer life?

I know. It’s so easy to push prayer time to the back burner. I mean, we’re so used to be being busy all. the. time. The business of busyness is just so a part of our culture today. Setting aside time for prayer means setting aside time to “be still.”

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Be still. 

A Sweet Fragrance

Or family currently includes three dogs, three cats, and five fish. We only had two cats until my son moved back in and brought his cat with him. So now we have three. They’re a lot of fun – even if they do drive me crazy 95% of the time.

And the dogs… well, Madeline, our little Schnauzer is eight years old now and she has all kinds of allergies. I mean, , she’s allergic to everything fleas, beef, wheat, shots… she has to be on a special diet and she still spends most of the year being mostly bald. She’s an indoor dog. Oh and we have a cat, Jade who’s allergic to fleas.

He’s had his hairless months, too. And then there is Lucy, our Lab/ Sharpe mix. She has a skin condition. At least she still has fur!

Believe me, I can’t for the life of me understand why we ended up with so many pets with allergies… our vet told me to just tell people our cat was a “hairless bottom” cat from Asia. He was trying to make me feel better. It’s really embarrassing sometimes!

Then there’s Jupiter – the cat who loves to push things off of table tops and dressers…. and Thomas, the cat who is butterball round but acts he’s starving all the time.

Caroline is my special girl. She’s a black Labrador that we rescued from the pound two years ago.  Caroline and Lucy spend a lot of time outside.

But in the winter when it’s so cold, we bring Lucy in at night and Caroline always sleeps on her bed in my bedroom – year round. And lest you think I love Caroline more than Lucy, it’s just not true.

The thing is that Lucy is mentally challenged and not trainable. So, she can’t be housebroken. She was deprived of oxygen in the womb. Anyway,

With all of these animals in the house, I’m constantly cleaning after them, shampooing my carpets, burning cinnamon flavored candles, trying to make sure my house smells good.

I love to burn incense in the house – myrrh is my personal favorite. It fills the whole house with it’s aroma. Myrrh incense sticks are inexpensive and the fragrance lasts a long time.

It wasn’t until I recently attended a women’s retreat and we did a lesson on incense and smelled different fragrances that I even considered burning incense in my own home.

Now every time I light an incense stick, I am reminded of how our prayers are sweet incense to God. As an incense stick burns, the smoke curls and wafts about the room, slowly rising. You can see the smoke as it moves and it smells wonderful!

Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Let the lifting up of my hands in prayer be accepted as an evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2 {God’s Word Translation}

Why Prayer Matters

If you never had a conversation with your husband, do you think your marriage would last? God wants to have a close relationship with you, His precious daughter.  Our prayers are a sweet incense, pleasing to God. He enjoys our prayers! Prayer is the key that unlocks the chains binding us to this world and God wants to release us from our bonds.

When we pray, when we talk to God, He hears our prayer. Regardless of what we talk to God about, He will listen and respond to us. Without communicating with God on a daily basis, how can we expect to receive the power over sin in our lives?

It’s so important to be setting aside time each day for prayer and Bible study time. I always encourage women to rise early while the house is still quiet to read and pray and plan. You will be blessed by the experience, I promise!

There are seasons in life where rising earlier than your family may be harder than others. For instance, if you have a baby who is not sleeping through the night – you may not be able to get up much earlier than you already are. In that case, I would encourage you to read and pray while you nurse the baby or during nap time.

But truly, for most of us, those early morning hours are the best time for devotions. Even Jesus, knowing how important it was to stay connected to His Father in heaven would rise up before dawn to spend time in prayer.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35

If Jesus needed that time with God, how much more do you and I? Just the precious life giving manna would disappear after the early morning hours, time has a way of getting away from us if we don’t set aside a dedicated time early in the day for prayer and devotion.

The Bible tells us not to “be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

” Our hearts need to be so in tuned with God that we have an attitude of prayer all day long. Our conversations with Jesus don’t have to stop when we set our Bible down and go forward with the day’s tasks.

We can commune with God all day long!

Part of creating a life of self-discipline, free of clutter, and free from emotional baggage means we need to seek Him out every day! This is the most important part of this challenge! 

Today’s Goal

  • If you’ve been struggling to find time for devotions, think and pray about what time you should have your devotion time. Do you have an attitude of prayer all day long?
  • Pray about making hard decisions – about what things you should keep, preserve, or let go.
  • Pick up a journal and write down your thoughts about what He has shown you or print my free prayer journal.
  • Choose an area in your home you want to tackle. I’ll be working in my family room today.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away. You can donate to our Appalachian Community Center if you’d .
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it on , Pinterest, , or Instagram – use hashtag #atimetoclean {optional}
  • Leave a comment below about what you chose to get rid of and anything else God has laid on your heart.
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow and spend time in prayer. Use your prayer journal. I’ll be waking up around 6:00 am.


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Psalm 141

Prayer To Be A Sweet Smelling Sacrifice

This Psalm has the title, A Psalm of David. It shows David as a man of tender conscience who asked God to deal with his own sin and weakness before addressing the wicked men who fought against him. It shows that David was even more concerned about evil inside him than he was about evil from others.

“The colourful Hebrew of the middle verses is difficult, but the thrust of the psalm is plain: a prayer against insincerity and compromise, and a plea for survival under the savage attacks which such an attitude has invited.” (Derek Kidner)

On account of the reference to the evening sacrifice in Psalm 141:2, “Chrysostom telleth us, that the Greek Church made use of this psalm in their evening liturgy.” (John Trapp)

1. (1-2) A prayer incense

LORD, I cry out to You;Make haste to me!Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,

The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

a. LORD, I cry out to You; make haste to me! David’s need was urgent, so he directed his prayer to the true God (Yahweh, the LORD) and begged him to help with haste.

i. “I have cried unto thee, I still cry to thee, and I always mean to cry to thee. To whom else could I go? What else can I do? Others trust to themselves, but I cry unto thee.” (Spurgeon)

b. Give ear to my voice: When a child cries out to a parent, the parent hears not only the words by the voice of the cry. The LORD can hear the voice of His people when they cry out to Him, and it moves Him to action.

c. Let my prayer be set before You as incense: David used the smoke and smell of incense as a representation of his prayer to God. His posture of prayer (the lifting of my hands) was a gift to God even as the evening sacrifice. Revelation 5:8 says that the prayers of God’s people are incense, and Hebrews 13:15 describes praise to be a sacrifice unto God.

· Prayer rises to heaven even as the smoke of incense.

· Prayer pleases God even as incense has a pleasing smell.

· Prayer needs some fire to be effective, and incense is activated with fire.

i. If David wrote this Psalm while a fugitive from King Saul, then the ideas of incense and the evening sacrifice held special meaning, because he was not free to publically go to the tabernacle and share in these acts of worship. When necessity kept him from the tabernacle, prayer would replace the offering of incense and sacrifice.

ii. “Incense was offered every morning and evening before the Lord, on the golden altar, before the veil of the sanctuary. Exodus 29:39, and Numbers 28:4.” (Clarke)

iii. Incense connected with the tabernacle and temple rituals needed to be pure and it needed to be prepared. David intended to offer pure and prepared prayers unto God.

iv. “The raising up of one’s hands was symbolic of dependence on and praise of the Lord.” (VanGemeren)

2. (3-4) A prayer to be kept from evil

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;Keep watch over the door of my lips.Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,To practice wicked worksWith men who work iniquity;

And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

a. Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth: David didn’t want the same mouth that prayed as incense to be used for lies or any evil thing. He asked God to keep watch over the door of my lips, so that he would not say evil or foolish things.

i. Keep the door of my lips: “That it move not creaking, and complaining, as on rusty hinges, for want of the oil of joy and gladness.” (Trapp)

ii. “If the house of God needed its guards and doorkeepers, how much more the man of God!” (Kidner)

iii. “Nature having made my lips to be a door to my words, let grace keep that door, that no word may be suffered to go out which may any way tend to the dishonour of God, or the hurt of others.” (Henry, cited in Spurgeon)

b. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing: David knew that it was more than his lips that needed protection; his heart could also be affected by some evil thing, resulting in wicked works. This was David’s way of praying what Jesus later taught, do not lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:13).

i. “The way the heart inclines the life soon tends: evil things desired bring forth wicked things practised. Unless the fountain of life is kept pure the streams of life will soon be polluted.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “The psalmist is not suffering from the hostility of the workers of iniquity, but dreads becoming infected with their sin.” (Maclaren)

iii. “David is not too good for evil people; he is too much them and therefore ly to be swept away by their wickedness if in their company.” (Boice)

c. Do not let me eat of their delicacies: David didn’t want to walk in the ways of men who work iniquity, so he didn’t want to eat at their table either. This may have been a literal situation for David, but the principle of not enjoying all the luxuries that the wicked partake of is always relevant to God’s people.

i. Men who work iniquity: “The word ‘men’… denotes men of land, rank, and status within the community.

However, these members of the aristocracy were nevertheless ‘evildoers’ who practiced ‘wicked deeds’ (cf.

28:3)… Removal of oneself from their influence and from the enjoyment of their material benefits was the second step away from temptation; dependency on the Lord was the first.” (VanGemeren)

ii. Sometimes there are many advantages in an evil, wicked way. The godly man or woman knows to avoid such advantages. “My afflictions are more desirable than such prosperity.” (Poole)

iii. “Instead of slander and violence, they are seeking to seduce him from his loyalty to truth and uprightness, The reference to ‘their dainties’ [delicacies] would seem to suggest that they were endeavouring to show him the advantages which he would enjoy if he would throw in his lot with theirs.” (Morgan)

iv. “A Christian living among the unbelievers and sensualists in the world, hath abundant reason to put up the same prayers, and to use the same precautions.” (Horne)

3. (5) A prayer to be corrected by the righteous

Let the righteous strike me;
It shall be a kindness.And let him rebuke me;

It shall be as excellent oil;

Let my head not refuse it.

a. Let the righteous strike me: David rejected the delicacies of the wicked, but embraced the correction that came from the righteous. He recognized that it would be a kindness (hesed) to him.

i. “In case I do offend in word or deed, let me never want a faithful reprover, who may smite me as with a hammer (so the word signifieth), reprove me sharply.” (Trapp)

ii. “When the ungodly smile upon us their flattery is cruel; when the righteous smite us their faithfulness is kind.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “Depend upon it, the man who will tell you your faults is your best friend. It may not be a pleasant thing for him to do it, and he knows that he is running the risk of losing your friendship; but he is a true and sincere friend, therefore thank him for his reproof, and learn how you may improve by what he tells you.” (Spurgeon)

b. It shall be as excellent oil: The rebuke of a good man could be a healing and helpful to David as excellent oil upon his head. a kind anointing from a friend, he would not refuse such rebuke or correction – even if it were as severe as a strike upon him.

i. Excellent oil: “Hebrew a head oil, such as they poured on their friends’ heads; and that was of the best.” (Trapp)

ii. You may want a fresh anointing, yet miss it because it comes to you as correction from a righteous man or woman.

“The fresh anointing which you seek in the morning may come not in rapt emotional experiences, but in the straight dealing of some fellow-disciple.

Whenever anything is said which finds fault with you and blames you, receive it humbly and tenderly, asking whether it may not contain a message from your Father.” (Meyer)

1. (5b-7) The wicked and their work

For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.Their judges are overthrown by the sides of the cliff,And they hear my words, for they are sweet.Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave,

As when one plows and breaks up the earth.

a. Still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked: The previous lines described David as grateful for correction from the righteous. Still, he prayed for God’s work against the deeds of the wicked.

For example, he wanted to see wicked judges be overthrown by the sides of the cliff – a severe but fitting judgment for those who improperly take sides, ignoring David’s righteous words (as he prayed for in Psalm 141:3-4).

i. This section of Psalm 141 is a great challenge for the translator and the interpreter. Alexander Maclaren wrote of the phrase, still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked: “But what is the meaning and bearing of the last clause of Psalms 141:5? No wholly satisfactory answer has been given.”

ii. The sense of their judges are overthrown by the sides of the cliff is difficult to understand from the original Hebrew. George Horne said of verse 6, “Of this verse, as it stands in our translation, I know not what can be made.” Perhaps David meant King Saul, his chief enemy, yet would not name him a desire to not attack God’s chosen king.

iii. “The psalmist prays that they may die a cruel death, being thrown down the cliffs (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:12; Luke 4:29). The shock of God’s judgment on their despotic regime will affect their followers and may bring them to their senses.” (VanGemeren)

iv. They hear my words, for they are sweet: “And so they did: the death of Saul made all the best of the nation look to the son of Jesse as the Lord’s anointed; his words became sweet to them.” (Spurgeon)

b. Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave: This is another phrase difficult to understand from the original. Perhaps David used this word picture to describe how ruined he felt he and his righteous companions were at the deeds of the wicked. Those so ruined could only cry out to God for help.

i. “Our case is almost as hopeless as of those who are dead, and whose bones are scattered in several places.” (Poole)

ii. “The point of the figure lies in the resemblance of the bones strewn at the mouth of Sheol to broken clods turned up by a plough. Sheol seems here to waver between the meanings of the unseen world of souls and the grave.” (Maclaren)

iii. “To the Jews such a spectacle must have been very dreadful, as the want of burial was esteemed one of the greatest calamities which could befall them.” (Burder, cited in Spurgeon)

2. (8-10) A prayer to find safety in the LORD

But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord;In You I take refuge;Do not leave my soul destitute.Keep me from the snares they have laid for me,And from the traps of the workers of iniquity.Let the wicked fall into their own nets,

While I escape safely.

a. But my eyes are upon You: Even in such a terrible condition (described in the previous lines), David deliberately set his eyes upon the Lord. Because God Himself was his refuge, David prayed do not leave my soul destitute. Without God’s protection, he was at the mercy of his wicked enemies.

i. But my eyes are upon You: “In all times, in all places, on all occasions, I will cleave unto the Lord, and put my whole confidence in him.” (Clarke)

ii. “That he is able to say, ‘Mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord,’ is a revelation of the fact that his anchor still holds, not only against the fierce onslaught of enemies, but also against the insidious temptation to turn aside from path of rectitude in order to escape the vindictive opposition of his enemies.” (Morgan)

iii. Remember what David said to Saul in 1 Samuel 26:19: If the LORD has stirred you up against me, let Him accept an offering.

But if it is the children of men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day from sharing in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, “Go, serve other gods.” This shows that David knew that the many others lied about him to Saul, hoping to slay him with their slander.

It also shows that when David was a fugitive, his enemies hoped to entice him to idolatry saying, Go, serve other gods. David would not; in the LORD alone he took refuge.

b. Keep me from the snares they have laid for me: The enemies of David were determined to destroy him, and so they set many snares, traps, and nets for him.

David’s prayer was that they would fall into their own nets, even as he would escape safely.

David’s trust in God was repeatedly vindicated as those who sought to destroy him were themselves destroyed.

i. Keep me from the snares: “It is hard to keep snares which you cannot see, and to escape gins which you cannot discover. Well might the much-hunted Psalmist cry, ‘Keep me.’” (Spurgeon)

ii. While I escape safely: “The last line (‘while, as for me—I pass right on!’) has a buoyancy worthy of the man who has slipped through many a net with the help of God, and is sure that his journey is by no means over.” (Kidner)

iii. “What is uppermost in the psalmist’s mind is, in any case, not the destruction of his enemies, but their being made powerless to prevent his “passing by” their snares uncaptured.” (Maclaren)

iv. This prayer was answered. “From the sequel of the history we find that the hope and assurance here expressed by the Psalmist were not vain. He escaped all the snares that were laid for him on every side.” (Horne)

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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