“You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.” Exodus 30:1
As children of God we’ve been taught to come to God everyday in prayer.
In prayer we worship God, giving him the praise and adoration he deserves. In prayer we come to God in repentance confessing our sins and weaknesses and asking for forgiveness and strength. In prayer we bring to God our requests and petitions presenting our needs and wants to our Heavenly Father and asking that he provide for them according to his will. In prayer we also expresses our thanksgiving to God for all the bountiful ways that he provides for our needs each day.
At times we pray to God publicly as we gather with other believers for worship but more often our prayers are in solitude as we individually draw close to God and seek communion with him.
In all of this praying the best that we can do falls far short of addressing our condition and needs or the character of God and the blessings we’ve received from him. In short, our prayers miss the mark and are not worthy of being presented before the righteous and holy God of the universe.
But God has anticipated our weakness and provided for our needs. Roman 8:26 tells us that, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
We can’t pray as we ought to so the Holy Spirit, one of the three divine persons that comprise the Godhead, steps in and rewords our prayers giving them the phrasing and content necessary to come before the throne of the universe and accomplish the purpose for which the blessing of prayer was given.
The altar of incense, within the tabernacle, before the veil separating the ark of the covenant from the table of shewbread and the lamp stand, was continually kept burning offering up a sweet smelling incense before the throne of mercy. This continual offering, like the continual offering upon the altar of sacrifice communicated that our Father’s forgiveness was perpetually available to the penitent, tells us that the Holy Spirit’s intercession is always available to the petitioner.
Many are hesitant to come to God. They know they’re unworthy and they wait to come to him until they’re more presentable. Friends this is pride and self exaltation and will never earn for us the favor of God. But God himself promises, “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2.
Humbly trusting in our Savior’s atoning sacrifice and the Spirit’s continual intercession we can confidently approach our Heavenly Father in prayer knowing that because they are worthy and they stand in our place that we are worthy and our prayer is heard and answered.