Psalm 141:1 I call upon you, O LORD; come quickly to me; give ear to my voice when I call to you. 2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.
What strikes me is the contrast of these words with other scripture passages in which God chastises the people for making animal sacrifices and burning incense – while continuing to oppress the poor and worship idols. God recognizes rote piety without repentance as empty gestures. These verses of Psalm 141 can be construed as the opposite. There are no actual animals or incense being offered, only desperate prayers and outreached hands.
As a pastor I spend more time than most people doing church stuff, including acts of worship, prayer, reading and reflecting, serving, and so on. I’ll admit there are days when it’s probably more rote than intentional – a habit. But then there are times when, like the psalmist in this passage, I seek the Lord from a posture of heart-felt humility.
We are in the season of Advent leading up to Christmas. Lots of church stuff going on. There is temptation for people like me, who have church-oriented jobs, to experience worship as “work” – like when others of you have a work-oriented project to complete, or a meeting to lead, or a sale to close, or file to complete. It’s easy for people like me to lose the worshipfulness of worship. That’s my prayer today, that I won’t get lost in the “work” of worship. Lord, let it be so. Amen.