Text: Joel 2:12-14; Rev 5:8
Summary: Here are 3 daily prayers that are sure to reach heaven as a pleasing aroma. I surrender, Lord. I repent, Lord. I want to meet you, Lord.
12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we ask you to teach us today how to pray. Many times it feels like our prayers don’t even reach the ceiling of our room. But Lord, we want to know what kind of prayers reach the throne room of heaven. And when you receive them, they are like a pleasing aroma. Father, I pray that you teach us today how to pray in a way that pleases you. In Jesus Name, Amen
I want to talk today about prayer. An amazing thing the Lord has shown me this week through Joel 2 and with Revelation in the back of my mind. Just amazing things that He’s taught me this week. And just to summarize it very simply. There are three simple prayers that we should be praying, as often as you can remember but at minimum, I ask you to pray at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. Hopefully as often as you remember, pray these three simple prayers.
First is, I surrender, Lord. Second is, I repent, Lord. Third is, I want to meet you, Lord. Just three simple prayers that you can start the day with, you can end the day with, and as often as you can remember. I surrender, Lord. I repent, Lord. I want to meet you, Lord.
Joel 2 mentions a grain offering and a drink offering. And the amazing thing is when the people are in the midst of judgment in the form of a famine, obviously they don’t have flour to make a grain offering. They don’t have drink to make a drink offering. But God, He is so gracious, that when He sees His people turning in repentance and surrendering before Him, God is so gracious that He supplies a grain offering and a drink offering.
And so that made me look at my Bible of where it originated and it’s found in Exodus 29. It talks about the grain offering and the drink offering. The context of Exodus 29 is Aaron and his sons consecrating themselves as priests from the tribe of Levi. And then you have Exodus 30, which is the altar of incense. And so these are physical things which paint a picture of spiritual reality. Revelation 5:8 says
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
And so here we have golden bowls full of incense and we see that these equal the prayers of the saints. In Exodus 29, you have two lambs. One offered in the morning, the beginning of the day. The second lamb is offered at twilight, at the end of the day. And this is Aaron and his sons going through the daily offering. And it involves two lambs, one in the beginning, one at the end. And it also involves a grain offering and a drink offering.
And the important detail that it mentions in Exodus 29, is that when they do this daily offering, it is a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And then you have Exodus 30, the altar of incense. You bring those two pictures together and you’re seeing physical things which are a pointer to heavenly realities. And so when we are offering our prayers, when we say, I surrender to you, Lord. When we say I repent, Lord. When we say, I want to meet you, Lord, it is as if incense is burning before the throne room of God and our prayers are being captured and heard by Heavenly Father.
I surrender, Lord, is the first prayer. I used to think surrender was a word reserved for the Christian or a word reserved for the seeker who’s on the way to surrendering his or her life and coming to faith in Jesus. But Aaron and his sons were involved in this. We don’t know the faith of the sons. We presume they’re believers, but whether they believe in God or not, just because they are born into Aaron’s family, they are consecrating themselves as priests, and this was an act of their will, as much as it is a prayer.
You fast forward to Numbers 28. What was once a priestly duty, Aaron and his sons from the tribe of Levi, now it says in Numbers 28 that every single person in the entire nation of Israel is supposed to do these priestly duties for themselves. And now we as New Testament believers, we know from places like 1 Peter 2, we are now the royal priesthood. And so these prayers are for every believer. I would even say, even before you’re a believer, you can pray this prayer, I surrender to you, Lord.
There are many reasons why we surrender to the Lord. We can do it purely as an act of our will. And that can apply to a believer or a non believer, because salvation is such a unique thing. There’s no cookie cutter in the kingdom. And so because of theology, we try to reduce these mysteries of God, which include salvation, to doctrinal statements. And we know that if we want to keep it nice and neat, it is the Father who draws. It is the Holy Spirit that blows. And then, the shepherd Jesus Christ appears. He speaks and as sheep we hear His voice, and we surrender our lives. We repent of our sins, and we have just met the Lord. Salvation has come.
That is a nice, tidy doctrinal salvation. And we highlight figures in the Bible like Saul of Tarsus, who became Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. He met the Lord in a supernatural way, and that’s a nice, neat picture.
When you take somebody like Nicodemus, his salvation is not so clear. He is a great teacher. He has so much knowledge, he’s dedicated himself to know God and yet he doesn’t know Him personally. And so at nighttime he humbly comes to Jesus. And it’s an act of his will, that he lays aside and surrenders his pride. He lays aside his reputation as a teacher, and he humbly seeks the Lord Jesus.
And so surrender, you can do it as a believer. You can do it as a non believer. You can do it at the beginning of the day, you can end the day with, I surrender because as much as it is a spiritual reality and it is a special word for the believer of course, but it is an act of the will. And parents, I pray that you can teach your children, even before they become born again believers, teach them to surrender themselves before the Lord.
It is an act of the will to humbly lay aside everything else, get into God’s presence and say, I surrender, Lord. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a pleasing aroma. Exodus 29 is all about the consecration of the priesthood and they had to go through this. It was an act of their will. And so all of us, if you want a pleasing prayer, it’s like incense, an aroma that is burning before the throne of God, you can go through the same surrendering prayer. I surrender to you, Lord.
You start your day with this. The first lamb starts at morning with the drink offering and the grain offering. But at the beginning of the day, you just woke up. And so there’s not much to repent of. That’s why there’s a secondary daily offering. At the end of the day, at twilight. A second lamb is used, and a drink offering and a grain offering is given.
And by the end of the day, I’m sure many of us, we have plenty of things to repent of. And repenting is a pleasing aroma to the Lord. When you repent before the Lord, it is such a pleasing thing. I pray that we would never think of repentance as a negative thing. God is not angry with us. He is slow to anger. He is abounding in love. He is so patient.
And think back to Joel 2 that we read at the outset. At a time of famine, when the entire people are under judgment, there are no ingredients for the daily offering. Who can spare two lambs at a time of famine? Who has flour to make a grain offering? Who can afford to give their drink offering? And God, He moves heaven and earth when he sees the people of God beginning to turn and repent and they have nothing in their hands. And God, He comes to them seeing their repentance, and He leaves behind a grain offering and a drink offering.
And as we read that, we should say, well, there’s something missing here. Where are the lambs? And we know the end of the story. We know Jesus Christ came. He is the Lamb. And so the entire daily offering ritual, God supplies all the ingredients. He supplies the grain. He supplies a drink. He has supplied the Lamb of God.
And so when you surrender to the Lord, and you repent before the Lord, it is like a pleasing aroma. It’s like incense that’s burning in His presence. He is so pleased when His people surrender and repent.
The last prayer is, and I think this is the most significant one, I want to meet you, Lord. In Exodus 29, we have to just take a step back from all the details. We just take a step back and see what is happening in Exodus 29. They are doing all of these sacrifices in the Tent of Meeting. And the name for that tent, the Tent of Meeting, is significant.
We can come to the Lord with all kinds of prayer requests, for provisions, for health, for forgiveness, for jobs, for loved ones, for needs that we have. We can come to the Lord with all kinds of prayer requests. But did you know the most precious prayer that you can ever pray, that is like a pleasing aroma to the Lord, is that you go to the Tent of Meeting and you ask the Lord, can I meet you? I want to meet you. That is the most pleasing prayer that you and I could ever pray.
When we pray that, God knows what is first and foremost in your heart. You’re not interested in the gifts and the blessings. You’re interested in the Giver and the Blesser. You’re not seeking the hands of God for handouts. You’re seeking His face. The most precious prayer that you and I can offer to the Lord, of course we start with surrender, where we just humble ourselves before the Lord. And then we repent before the Lord. And then lastly we say, Lord, I want to meet you.
And just going back to repentance, when you humble yourself before the Lord, there are times when there are so many things that you know you need to repent of. You don’t have to wrack your brain. Just right away, it’s probably what drove you in the first place to surrender before the Lord because you sinned and with that heaviness of heart you came. You come into God’s presence, you surrender, you humble yourself and you repent.
There are other times you just get into His presence like at the beginning of the day. You haven’t sinned, you’ve just opened up your eyes. And at that moment, it’s okay that if there’s nothing to repent of, you just move naturally into, Lord, I want to meet you today. Hopefully by the end of the day, you’re thanking the Lord for meeting you today.
But we need to get into God’s presence. You don’t enter with condemnation or guilt. This is not a formula that if you don’t repent, you can’t ask to meet the Lord. You just get into the presence of God, and if you have nothing to repent of, you ask the Holy Spirit to convict you.
And if you’re praying this at the end of the day, things that you did throughout the day that you didn’t consider sin, you’ll be surprised. He’ll bring it to memory. Little comments, little words, little expressions. At the time when you were doing it, you didn’t think you were sinning, but there was something there. A tone, a motive, a harshness that was a little too much. The Lord will bring them to your attention.
And that’s why we pray at the beginning and at the end. That’s why Jesus, He is called Alpha and Omega. That’s why He’s the beginning and the end. That’s why He’s the first and the last. You start with Jesus. And many people think that’s all you have to do in the Christian life. You start with Alpha. You start with the beginning, you start with the first. And no wonder at the end, there is a great chance that such people, you’ll get into God’s presence and Jesus will say, I never knew you. Because you never spent time getting to know Him.
Practice this on a daily basis and at minimum two times, beginning of the day and at the end of the day, that you begin with Jesus, He is your Alpha. And you end with Jesus, He is your Omega. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. You start each day. It’s a daily offering. You’re going to the Tent of Meeting. And you surrender before the Lord. And you repent.
And if you’re doing this at the end of the day, the Holy Spirit, He will whisper and bring to memory things that you said or did or thought. And at the time, you didn’t repent because you didn’t think a big deal of it, but by the end of the day because you’ve surrendered yourself before the Lord and you’ve asked for the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will begin convicting you of sin.
And you’ll have plenty of things to repent of by the end of the day when you surrender to the Lord. It’s a prayer and it’s an act of your will, you get on your knees, you humble yourself. It is a pleasing aroma. The incense is burning and God has captured that prayer. It is so precious in His sight when you repent.
Look at Joel 2. At a time of famine, when they could not possibly offer a grain offering and a drink offering, God sees His people turning, He goes to them, and He blesses them with a grain offering and a drink offering, so that they can follow this daily offering to the Lord. Not only does He provide the grain and the drink. Of course He has provided the Lamb of God.
And when you end that prayer with, I want to meet you, Lord, I cannot think of a more pleasing prayer. Like if your children leave your house one day and they go off to college and they start their own family, they may call you because they’re in a jam. And of course you’re happy to hear from your children in any circumstance. And if they need money, of course you do whatever you can to help your children. But if they called you and there’s no agenda and they just want to know, how are you, dad? You know that will melt the heart of a parent. They just called to see how you are doing, and they just want to meet with you.
No agenda, they’re not asking for anything. There’s no lecturing involved. There’s no discussion, there’s no important issue. They just want to fellowship. They just want to be in your presence. And thank the Lord because the Father has provided the Lamb. And because He has provided the Lamb and because Jesus’ body was torn in two, now we can enter into the Holy of Holies as a priest of God because we have a High Priest, Jesus.
And we can enter the throne of God with confidence and enter God’s presence. And we can just hang with our Heavenly Father. Just an amazing thing. And when your desire is, Father, I just want to hang with you today. Jesus, I just want to meet you today so I can just abide in you and just be close to you. I cannot think of a prayer that is more pleasing to our Heavenly Father than, I want to meet you, Lord. And that’s what the Tent of Meeting exemplifies and demonstrates. That the Lord God wants to meet with His people.
And as New Covenant believers, we don’t have to bring a grain offering. We don’t have to bring a drink offering. We don’t have to kill a lamb at the beginning and the end of the day. Instead we bring ourselves. Romans 12:1 says, as a living sacrifice we offer ourselves with nothing in our hands but our lips, as we honor Him with this prayer, I surrender to you, Lord. I repent, Lord, I want to meet you, Lord. That is like incense burning in God’s presence as a pleasing aroma.
And there are places in the New Testament captured by a couple of women. One being Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry before He’s about to sacrifice Himself, Mary out of an overflow of gratitude for what Jesus did in raising her brother, Lazarus, from the dead, she breaks her entire life savings of ointment or pure nard, her alabaster jar. And she breaks it in Jesus’ presence, and John records in John 12 that the fragrance filled the room. It’s a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
When you surrender everything to Him and you come into His presence, I think the story that really captures today’s message and this daily offering is found in Luke 7. It’s about a sinful woman and we don’t know her name. But if you look at Luke 8, suddenly we read about Mary Magdalene who is now following Jesus. So I think it’s safe to presume that Luke 7 is Mary Magdalene’s salvation story.
And again, this is prior to her salvation. As an act of her will she comes into God’s presence. And so that is why I’m saying surrender can happen and should be done as believers and non believers. As an act of her will prior to her salvation, she comes into Jesus’ presence. And she’s entering a Pharisee’s house named Simon.
And the Pharisee didn’t honor Jesus at all. He didn’t provide any basin to wash Jesus’ feet. He didn’t anoint Jesus’ head with oil. Instead, this “sinful” woman comes into Jesus’ presence. And from the moment that she’s there, she is at Jesus’ feet. That is a picture of surrender. When your face is down low, you’re surrendering, you’re humbling yourself. That means to get on your knees, that is what worship is. You’ve gotten down on your knees and your face is low to the ground. That is such a vivid picture of surrender. It is a prayer, I surrender, Lord. It is also an act of our will when we get down on our knees.
And from the moment she got into Jesus’ presence, she is weeping. Why would she be weeping? She is known as a woman of the city. She is a prostitute. She has sinned over and over. So many times she is full of sin, she is demonized. And she is weeping. In Jesus’ presence, she is repenting and asking to be forgiven and asking to be delivered. Such a picture not only of surrender but of what repentance looks like at Jesus’ feet. Because Jesus’ feet were not washed with water. This woman is supplying the water through her tears. It must have been such a pleasing aroma before the Lord, even before she broke the jar.
Just the fact that she surrendered, just the fact that she repented, a pleasing aroma must have reached the throne room of God. The final picture of why this story is a description of what we’ve been talking about today is that she breaks her alabaster jar of perfume. And I don’t know about you, but just a little pinch just fills the room. Before I was a Christian in my freshman year of college, I put on some cologne. It’s probably the only year of my life that I put on cologne because I thought I was hot stuff.
And so I used a cologne called Fahrenheit. I think that was the name, in a red maroon bottle. But just a little couple of drops of cologne/perfume and it will fill the room. She broke an entire jar. What a pleasing aroma that must have been to the Lord. She surrendered before the Lord. She repented before the Lord. And guess what happened at the end of Luke 7? Jesus says, your faith has saved you. Go in peace. She met the Lord Jesus.
Isn’t that what we want? Every day what makes the day great is that you can find places in the day where the Lord met you. He met you through His Word. He met you through answered prayers. He met you through just a vision, a dream, a conversation that you had with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. But you can locate moments in the day when the Lord met you.
And the desire of a heart that wells up from deep within from the Spirit, is that you want to meet the Lord. That is what all of us want. We want to meet the Lord. And even before you’re a Christian, you can surrender. That’s my encouragement to all the people who hear my voice who are not saved yet, you can actually surrender before the Lord. At minimum two times a day, the minute you wake up, you can surrender to the Lord. You can end your day with, I surrender before the Lord.
Even before you’ve been forgiven you can say, I repent before you, Lord. Please forgive me. That’s what Mary Magdalene did even before she was saved. She surrendered, she repented. At the end, she heard the forgiveness when Jesus said, your faith has saved you, go in peace. And do these things at minimum two times every day as your daily prayer, your daily offering of surrender, repentance, and I want to meet you.
Jesus is the beginning and He’s also your end. And let’s not get confused with doctrine because some people say you only need Him once, and because you have Him once, don’t doubt Him. Don’t doubt your salvation. You have assurance of salvation because you have a clear salvation testimony. If that’s what people say, then I would say Jesus is only your Alpha. He’s not your Omega. Jesus is only your beginning, He’s not your end. Jesus is your first, He’s not your last.
But as believers who really take Jesus at His word and not as doctrinal statements, at minimum, we should say these prayers twice a day, I surrender before you Lord. I repent before you Lord. I want to meet you, Lord. Pray this at the beginning of your day. Pray this at the end of the day.
And if you do this, among all the prayers which prayers are captured in God’s presence, which ones does He hold dear? Which ones does He keep in His presence ever before Him? It is every prayer of surrender, every prayer of repentance, every prayer especially when you went to your Tent of Meeting, and you said, Lord, I want to meet you. That is the most precious prayer.
Okay, let’s pray.
I invite you to repeat after me so that we can learn this simple prayer.
Father, I surrender before you. I repent before you. Please forgive me. Holy Spirit, please convict me of my sin. Father, I want to meet you. Jesus, I want to meet you. In Jesus Name, Amen
Father, I thank you so much. You taught us how to pray such a simple prayer. And we want to pray this at the beginning of the day in the morning time. We want to pray this at the end of the day at twilight, and also throughout the day as often as we remember. We want to surrender, Lord. It is a prayer. It is an act of the will, where we get on our knees. We get into your presence. And this can happen for a believer. This can happen for an unbeliever. We surrender before you, Lord.
Also we repent before you, Lord. There are times we have clear things that we are already convicted of, that’s why we came to you in prayer in the first place. There are other times we don’t know what to repent. Father, in those times we ask for the Holy Spirit. I ask for the Holy Spirit, even in this moment, that you convict us of our sins, hidden sins, unknown sins. I pray that you will show it to us, motives of the heart, hidden things. That you will lay every sin bear in your presence.
We pray that your Word, which acts as a double edged sword, will slay us and cut us so that we would weep like Mary Magdalene. Thank you for teaching us the most precious prayer, the prayer that is most pleasing in your sight. When we come to our Tent of Meeting, and we meet with you, and we ask you to meet us, and we express the deepest desires of our heart. That, Lord, we want to meet you. As much as you want to meet us, we want to meet you.
We have other prayer requests, we have other needs and situations that we offer in prayer and every burden, every request, we offer with thanksgiving in all circumstances. But I pray we can end every prayer with, Lord, thank you for meeting us, and Lord, I want to meet you. What a pleasing prayer that would be. And so Lord, today we practice it, we surrender before you. We repent before you, we receive your forgiveness. Holy Spirit, convict us of sin so that we can receive all forgiveness of every sin.
And most importantly, our prayers, our times when we’ve entered the Tent of Meeting, we express our desire to meet you. We don’t need the gifts. That’s not why we’ve entered the Tent of Meeting. We’ve entered because we want to meet the Giver of the gifts. We’re not seeking your hands, we’re seeking your face. We want to meet you. Thank you for meeting us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And because you’ve met us, Lord Jesus, now we have an audience with our Heavenly Father in the throne room of God. Not only do we have our prayers that have been captured in these golden bowls of incense. We also can approach the throne and enter your presence with our bodies as living sacrifices. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful prayer that you’ve taught your people. In Jesus Name, Amen