To grow in the Grace of God, we need to call upon the Name of the Lord. Calling upon the Name of the Lord means to pray unto Him. In Genesis 4:26, when Enos was born to Seth, “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” The answer to our prayer is Grace. If we have a proper life of prayer, surely we will have the grace of God upon us.
Jesus is the best example of a praying person. Jesus set an example for us about how to pray. A man of prayer has graceful words proceeding out of his mouth. In times as ours, we need to all-the-more have personal prayers, family prayers and collective prayers as well.
Prayer is a single term, but it has four aspects which is mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:1. Supplications, Prayers, Intercession and Thanksgiving. In Psalms 141:2, prayer is compared to incense. Revelation 8:3,4 also explains prayer being compared to incense.
In the Old Testament, when God asked Moses to prepare incense, He asked him to make it out of four ingredients – Exodus 30:34. We can find names of sweet spices here like Stacte, Onycha and Galbanum. Pure frankincense has to be mixed with these sweet spices.
Stacte – Supplication
Onycha – Prayer
Galbanum – Intercession
Pure Frankincense – Thanksgiving
Let’s learn about these in detail.
1. Stacte/Supplication – Stacte is referred to a gum/resin that comes out of a tree called Storax when it is pierced. It is soft but of a bitter taste. So is the prayer of Supplication. It is a type of prayer that is made when we go through bitter experiences. Hannah in the Old Testament prayed such a prayer when she found out that she was barren – 1 Samuel 1:5,8,10-11. She pleads before God for a son.
Supplication isn’t forceful to get something from God. It’s not a demand put forth before the Lord. It is a humble request or rather a pleading prayer before God like as King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 34:27. He rent his clothes and wept before God.
2. Onycha/Prayer – It is made out of the outer covering/shell of a sea snail, the particles of which are hard. But it has a good fragrance. This kind of prayer refers to striving in prayer to get an answer from the Lord. The hard part of the covering refers to praying the hardest when it is hard to pray. When Daniel got to know that the king’s commandment has been signed, he prayed all the more exceedingly.
Elijah prayed fervently in James 5:17. The answer to his prayer was rain. The prayer of Jacob also shows striving in prayer and thus his name changed to Israel. Romans 15:30 exhorts us to strive in prayer. So Onycha/Prayer refers to an effectual, fervent and earnest prayer. Pounding the shell into small particles refers to prayer made out of a broken and a contrite heart. The Lord is nigh unto those who pray with a broken and contrite heart – Psalms 34:18.
3. Galbanum/Intercession – It is an aromatic gum resin that is got from the root of a plant. It preserves the incense from insects. In our lives, to keep us from evil, we need to have this prayer of Intercession.
Jesus is interceding for us even now – Hebrews 7:25 He ever lives to make Intercession for us. When we intercede for others, the fragrance that comes from it, protects us from evil. For example, God turned the captivity and healed the sickness of Job when he prayed for others. We shouldn’t be selfish prayer warriors, but selfless warriors interceding for others like Abraham and Moses. Abraham interceded for the Lot and family before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Moses interceded for the Israelites when they went against God – Exodus 32:14.
4. Pure Frankincense/Thanksgiving – Frankincense is also an aromatic gum, got from a tree. When it is put in fire, it gives out a sweet smell. It an aspect of prayer that comes out of a grateful heart. Mary of Bethany poured an ointment of spikenard on the feet of Jesus and the whole house was filled with its odour – John 12:3. It shows her thankful heart unto the Lord.
We see Jesus offering thanks unto the Father before raising Lazarus from the dead – John 11:41. In John 6:11 also Jesus offered thanksgiving before breaking the bread and distributing to the people gathered there. The Bible encourages us to not worry or be anxious about anything but to get everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving – Philippians 4:6 Martha was careful/worrying about many things, but Mary chose the good part of sitting at the feet of Jesus and making her requests known unto God.
All of these four ingredients had to be of an equal weight to make the Incense. Likewise, if there is unity in our spirit, soul and body, that is, if we have one mind and heart, surely our prayer/incense will reach the Presence of God and His Grace will be upon us.