“Lord, I have cried unto You, hearken unto me; attend to the voice of my supplication when I cry unto You. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before You, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.“ (Ps 140/141: 1-2)
It is thought that King David composed this Psalm at a time when his son Absalom was plotting to kill him, and David was cut off from his usual place of worship, the Tabernacle of Moses (a tent made of animal skins). The evening-worship at the Tabernacle (at ca. 3 pm) involved burning incense and offering the “evening sacrifice“ of slaughtered animals. But as David is in hiding, because his life is in danger, he cannot participate in this evening worship at the Tabernacle. Nonetheless, he has a voice, and hands, and the capacity to pray. So he offers himself, instead of the usual “evening sacrifice“ at the Tabernacle, to God.
This weekend, we would usually be hearing/singing this beautiful Psalm together, in the middle of Vespers on Saturday evening. But many of us will not be doing that in church, because of the Coronavirus-lockdowns. Nonetheless, I’m thinking I have a voice, and hands, and a capacity to pray. So let me offer myself to God, and join the creative flow of His energies in some heartfelt prayer, as best I can. This evening I’ll light a scented candle (because I have no incense), and sing from my heart: “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before You, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.“ Thank You, God, for the prayer-adventure of this difficult time.