Each summer I look forward to times with my family and friends around a campfire. In addition to telling stories, singing songs, roasting marshmallows, and making smores, there is something warm and appealing about the sight of spark-sprinkled smoke wafting into the starlit night. The aromatic smell of the campfire smoke enriches the air and lingers in our clothing, reminding us hours or even days later of the great moments we had together.
I think God likes the smell of campfires…and I’m not just referring to the ones we build around a fire circle.
This is about God’s people, the Church, praying together with such passion and unity that the Holy Spirit ignites those prayers and sends them to the throne room of God like the sweet smell of heavenly incense.
The Bible makes it clear that the prayers of God’s people, “encamped” around Him in worship, rise like the fragrant incense of a campfire. This is not a solo effort, but the intentional decision and submission of the Church—the collective Body of Christ—to voice the prayers of our hearts as one to God.
It’s not about burning incense or following some strange, empty ritual in order to get God’s favor. Because of Jesus, we already have the Father’s undivided attention. God’s love and care for those who are in Christ is unfailing.
Instead, the spiritual reality is this: When God’s people pray together, authentically, and in line with the Truth of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit energizes our prayers with the heat of God’s power and those prayers ascend to God like holy incense. As the Church seeks God’s power and reign in this world, in our lives, in and circumstances, our collective prayers fill God’s throne room with the sweet, spiritual smoke that honors God.
I love the picture of how these prayers reach the Father, as told in the Book of Revelation:
“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.”
The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
God is faithful to answer the “Revelation” collective prayers of God’s people in a big way. If we believe that a mighty movement of God is preceded by a concerted time of prayer, then we will submit His call for all Christ followers to pray together.
Right now my church is raising up prayers for Isaac, a young man who is battling testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and heart. I know those prayers are rising like incense before God right now. Many Christ-followers throughout the world are praying for the wind of the Holy Spirit to sweep across the land and bring spiritually dead people alive in Christ. In these desperate times, let our prayers for God’s Kingdom to come “here on earth as it is in heaven” lift up from the campfires of our churches.
Now is the time for the Church to come together, encamped around Jesus Christ, to raise prayers that ascend like holy smoke to God. Pray with each other, pray for each other, pray for others outside our churches, and pray in the Power of God’s Spirit and Word.
A life of worship includes Spirit-filled, collective prayers with other transformed followers of Jesus Christ.
God bless you!