“The Prayer of Incense, Advent and Waiting”

Psalm 141:2 & Luke 1

Luke 1 candle2

Advent is the “in-between” season as we wait to celebrate the Christ child’s birth.  Thus it was in God’s “in-between” time Zechariah was chosen by lot to offer the prayers for the saints waiting outside the Temple. Like Zechariah, we all must learn to wait on God’s perfect time. Zechariah had often prayed but it seemed like those prayers were falling on fallow ground. Would God ever hear and answer? Yet God’s answers come without an age restriction. God had a specially chosen assignment for him and his barren wife Elizabeth. As Zechariah stood ministering God was not only listening but had a message of hope for Zechariah. He would have a son; John the Baptist, to be the forerunner of Jesus.

Do you sometimes think that you are too old to do God’s work?

Perhaps Zechariah felt that way but he also saw faithful waiting was honored even in his advanced age. As was the custom, the lots were cast and Zechariah’s name emerged. He had waited a lifetime for this! In great excitement, he left the Judean hillside where he and his barren wife, Elizabeth resided and walked to Jerusalem.

Now in the courtyard near the brazen altar, Zechariah slowly and meticulously chose the censer to carry the burning coals to reignite the smoldering coals of the incense altar. He then carefully, ever so carefully with his aged palm, reached down to take two handfuls of the incense which would bring a sweet aroma heavenward. In the Holy Place Zechariah quietly stood and then began his work. “Yahweh, hear and accept my prayer.”[Ps 141:2]  As the smoke from the burning incense wafted upwards he wondered; did my prayer fill God’s nostrils with a sweet aroma? God not only heard but chose to answer Zechariah. Swiftly Yahweh dispatched Gabriel to earth and to Zechariah. Go and tell Zechariah I have heard and am answering —-Yet the aged priest said to the angel:  How can this be?

How often does God send His answer and we say how can this be?

Are you waiting for a prayer to be answered? How do you respond?  


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