Scripture Reading: Luke 1:10 (New International Version)

“And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.”

Thought for the day:

A long time ago, Cath and I had a holiday in Cornwall. With some close friends, we rented a farmhouse that was in the middle of nowhere! It was an amazing holiday and there was a games room in one of the old barns. To get to the room, we had to leave the main house and walk a short distance. I can’t remember much of the detail of that holiday, but the residing memory was one when, for the first time, I walked from the house to the games room. After closing the farmhouse door to begin the walk, I was instantly enveloped in almost complete darkness. There were no streetlights, and as it was a typical British summer, the storm clouds ensured there were no stars! I was also ‘hit’ with total silence. I could hear nothing and see nothing until eventually, my senses adjusted to the circumstance and I made my way successfully to the room. 

Modern life is just so different to the solitude I encountered that holiday. It’s almost impossible to find a peaceful location. Even on a train, the noise from fellow passengers’ headphones ensure a disturbed journey. We are bombarded with noise and distractions. I know many people who say that they cannot concentrate unless there is music playing in the background but I think there’s value in finding quiet somewhere, somehow. 

I’d like to suggest that a little effort be made to buck this trend. The verse from today brings two specific things to my mind. Firstly, there was a definite time allocated for the burning of incense. The scripture teaches that incense is likened to prayer. Psalm 141:2 says “May my prayer be set before you like incense”. I’d like to challenge you to set a specific time for prayer. Secondly, Zechariah, as part of his priestly duties, left the crowds and went into the most holy place. It’s easy to worship with the crowds. It’s tougher to leave everything and seek God alone. Leave behind the distractions of music, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., and learn to tune into the solitude of meeting with God. Believe me, it’s worth the effort!

Prayer and Application:

Take 2 minutes to try to focus in on God and write down everything that is attempting to distract you. Your mind will instantly ‘fill’ with many things. Record them in your journal and then make a conscious decision to deal with those things AFTER your prayer time.