"O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice."
One way that I know I am moving closer to God and an intimate relationship with Him, is the presence of an ever-increasing sense of gratitude in my life.
We know that we are being wooed and won over to the heart of God when we experience a deep sense of thankfulness for all the benefits and blessings in our lives, despite the fact that we live in a fallen world, burdened with hurt and disappointment, and populated by fallen, flawed people (including myself!).
The Psalmist describes the act of calling upon the Lord, of praying to Him, as incense. Revelation 5:8 describes the "prayers of the saints" as "golden bowls full of incense."
Incense is a pungent and overpowering scent, searing your sense of smell and invading your sense of taste. The aroma of incense is meant to bring beauty and awareness to the atmosphere. Our prayers to God bring Him great pleasure and fill the heavens with a powerful sense of beauty.
"May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice," wrote the psalmist, David. Lifting our hands before the Lord is the sweet release of surrender. All of us wrestle with the weight and worries of cares and burdens and anxieties. Until we realize we are carrying a burden we are not meant to bear.
If we "cast our cares upon Him," and release those worries, we can transfer the weight and responsibility of fixing them by ourselves to the place they belong. From our shoulders, to the broad shoulders of our Savior and God. Oh what burdens are lifted, stress relieved, and hearts lightened when we learn to give our cares to the Lord. For that, we can give thanks and praise Him!
Whatever your interpretation of America's history, remember, there was a moment in time, when warring factors, when men and women of different persuasions, when Native Americans and pilgrims, both struggling to survive in this land, found moments of camaraderie, of desiring to live together in peace. There was a moment when we declared, it is time to give thanks. When it is time to send prayers like incense to the heavens, and thank God who loves us, for all our blessings.