A few years ago, I came across a discussion of the prayer of Jabez. Though it is only a short prayer, the teacher that I was listening to made exorbitant claims about its effectiveness in terms of obtaining what you wanted from God:
“Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)
Now to be honest, this prayer seemed a bit too self-centred to be pleasing to God and I have always had a revulsion for the prosperity gospel that teaches Christianity as a pathway to material wealth. On the other hand, the prayer did get me thinking about a prayer that would please God. After a bit of thought, I came up with the following prayer which I have prayed every day since that time and which I believe the Lord has been encouraging me to share with others:
Great and Glorious Heavenly Father, cleanse and bless and multiply all that we have offered to You beyond all reason and measure to the abounding glory of Your Son Jesus Christ. Cleanse our offerings on the altar of His sacrifice because nothing that we have ever done is worthy of Him. Bless what we have offered as only the hands that created the Universe from nothing can do and multiply the blessing beyond all reason and measure, not because what we have done is worthy or for our sake, but for the sake of Your Son. His worth, His love, His perfect obedience.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have often done things “for Christ” with the wrong motivation in my heart. I have done things “for Christ” when my real motivation was to impress a woman with how Godly I was. I have done things “for Christ” with a lousy, “I am doing this because I have to” attitude. I am convinced that the only way anything I have ever done can be used by the Lord is if it is cleansed on the altar of His sacrifice.
Likewise, what I have offered to God is fairly paltry. Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect obedience. He was the man of sorrows who deserved every good thing, but was rejected, mocked, scorned and crucified. As compared to that, what is a few minutes of prayer or some money offered by a sinner? I pray that God would multiply what I have offered as He multiplied the bread and the fish when He fed the 5000.
Finally, I wanted the prayer to be for God’s Glory for the sake of His great name instead of for an increase of my territory or something for me. Why? Because the perfect love and obedience of Jesus Christ deserves nothing less.
Now some may be curious as to why I mention this prayer. The reason is that I was going through Revelation the other day and came across an astonishing verse:
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. (Revelation 8:3)
As I read this verse, I wondered, “What is the incense that gets offered with the prayers of the saints and why does God add incense?” It occurred to me that incense is something that improves the aroma of something else and I became persuaded that every time I have prayed my little prayer, God has added a little incense to cover the rest of my prayers and make them more pleasing to Him. I believe that if you will join me in adding a little incense to our prayers as a church, that we will become much more powerful and effective at reaching the world.