by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM
May my prayer be set before you like incense… Psalm 141:2 NIV
Several years ago, after my mom passed away, I was given some of her things; clothes, jewelry, special personal items and a very nice, two-inch round locket on a long gold chain. It wasn’t the kind of locket that held a picture; instead, it contained solid perfume. My mom had a business that dealt with a lot of cash. Whenever she counted it, she made her fingers tacky with the solid perfume in the locket. She wore it every day for that reason. The locket wasn’t my style, and I didn’t care about the perfume, but it was a memory and piece of my mom. It went into my jewelry box and was forgotten.
One day, a few years later, while rooting around in my jewelry box, I came across my mom’s locket. Smiling at the memories, I opened it up and rubbed my finger on the solid perfume. The fragrance instantly rose to my senses, activating my memories. It was like my mom was standing right there. I’ll never forget that moment or how I could actually smell the memory of my mom.
The sense of smell is a powerful trigger for memories and emotions.
Just a few days before Passover and the crucifixion, Jesus was having a meal in a friend’s home. As they reclined at the table, Mary of Bethany opened a very expensive box of perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet. The fragrance filled the room (John 12:1-8). It was such an extravagant expression of love, some of the disciples grumbled at the waste. But Jesus told them, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.”
The scent of that perfume and Mary’s beautiful expression of love and worship for Jesus rose all the way to heaven. I wish I could have been there.
God speaks of Himself as having a metaphoric sense of smell, delighting in the fragrance of our love and worship. Whether our prayers are filled with concerns, needs or worship, it is all a sweet aroma to him. The Bible compares the prayers of the saints to golden bowls full of sweet-smelling incense (Revelation 5:8).
Think about this—If the sense of smell can trigger such emotion in us, as the moment I smelled my mother in her perfume, how much more love does it trigger in God when our prayers rise up to Him? When we worship Him? When we cry out to Him? It is like Mary’s extravagant gift being poured out all over again.
David understood this when he prayed, “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2 NIV). In this psalm, David humbles himself before God, asking Him to put a guard on his tongue, and then goes on to pour out his heart and soul before God, comparing it to breaking a vessel of fragrant perfume.
Today, let’s take a moment to break open our most costly gift—spending some time in worship and prayer, letting it rise as a fragrant incense to God.
About the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.
Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.
Join the conversation: What aromas trigger emotions or memories for you?