Friday, June 4, 2010

A New Tool for the Old Prayer Toolbox

I have a new favorite prayer tool.  Prayer tools are things that help you to pray, and I would add--or things that remind you to pray- like the rosary, or having a rosary in your pocket.   The Bible, a prayer book, sacred images, candles, music, even prayer shawls are all prayer tools.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that another favorite prayer tool- my MOST favorite prayer tool is a daily prayer book called the Magnificat.  You can find more about it on their website, but my new favorite prayer tool is an ancient Eastern tradition of burning incense. 

I've always loved the smell of incense and looked forward to the Good Friday service when incense was used heavily in my church growing up.  When I was a teenager, I used to burn incense at home until I found out that most young people who burn incense are doing it to cover up the smell of the drugs they are smoking!  OK, I more incense for THIS girl! A few years ago I worked for an Hindu family and every day when the mom came in from work, she lit a small incense cone and let the smoke rise up in front of their pagan statues while she cooked dinner. That's a really neat tradition, I thought, for them, but I am not Hindu.  Then last month when I was in Epcot at Disney World, I walked into the Japanese store and smelled incense once more.   The Japanese culture is one that I've always liked.  On one of the boxes of incense they had for sale, it even said that incense invokes curiosity in children! Seeing how they value incense in their homes, made me think it might not be so bad to try it at home again.

I don't know about curiosity, but the smell of burning incense invokes a feeling a God's presence which is why it is my new favorite prayer tool.  Burning incense at home makes me feel like I'm in a holy place and makes me think or want to think holy thoughts.  When I see the smoke rise up and disappear, it reminds me of how my prayer leave my lips and enter into into another dimension: the heavenly throne of God.  "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!" (Psalm 141:2)  "And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand." (Revelations 8:4)  Incense somehow helps me know God is near and wants to hear my prayer.  

And if someone comes in and thinks I'm burning incense because I'm trying to hide something...they may be right.  It also helps to hide lingering after dinner smells like bacon and fish.  This prayer tool is multifunctional!

Now your turn...what are your prayer tools or your favorite prayer tools? I love comments and look forward to reading yours!


Allison said...

I have a very simple plastic rosary I made and it hangs on my rear view mirror. I say little prayers at stop lights and the rosary reminds me to speak kindly to my sons while carting them all over the county!

Julie Cragon said...

My office is set up with prayer reminders. It is the first room off our back door and a must to get from the kitchen to the playroom. The watercolor of the cross at Medjugorje, the six Saint images (my children' patrons) by St. Andrew's Abbey, an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the votive in front and the small Mission Church with the candle inside all are visible as I sit on my small futon to pray and to write. The smallest space in the house and yet my children tend to love to gather there to talk.

Sarah Harkins said...

Love it!

Keep the comments coming...