Praying with Spice 4

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“Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense…And with it you shall make incense…salted, pure and holy” (Exodus 30:34-35 NASB).

 

Our perfumer’s recipe for prayer is almost complete. We’ve added three ground resins — stacte (our broken confession), galbanum (intercession for the stench around us), and frankincense (a steadfast worship) — with a singular, sea-sourced element called onycha (a willingness to listen to His voice). To the nostrils of the novice, this incense is ready for the altar. But not to our God. He demands we add salt.

 

Upon first glance, the significance of salt is almost too common. We put it into almost every recipe and find it as a stock commodity in every kitchen. Besides, isn’t it our taste buds, not our noses that recognize salt’s uniqueness? What then is the purpose of salting an offering?

 

The more I studied the uses of salt in antiquity, the more I was confused. Used both to preserve and enhance flavor, salt was believed by some to be a divine gift (Homer, Iliad 9.214). Found in abundance surrounding the Dead Sea, salt was gathered and traded widely for iron, gold, wheat and even human lives (II, R. G. R. (2016). Salt. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press). Salt was rubbed on babies at birth (Ezekiel 16:4) and scattered on the enemy’s land to ruin productivity (Judges 9:45).

saltonshore

 

I was bobbing in a sea of salt and getting nowhere.

 

And then I made dinner. In the course of preparation, some salt spilled from its container directly into the gas flame of my range top. The fire reacted with a quick show of orange, then returned to its normal blue heat.

 

Afterwards as I cleaned up, I noticed grains of salt still collected in the burner pan. The salt had not been consumed by the fire.

 

I’m sure I’d memorized salt’s chemistry long ago, but on this particular day I was ready to retain the information. I discovered that salt has an extremely high melting point — over four times that of sugar and over eight times that of butter. Burned over an ordinary cooking fire, salt is not consumed. It remains crystalized in the ashes.

heating salt

 

As I returned to my study, the pieces began to fall into place.

 

Salt symbolized:

“that which is incorruptible(Thomas, W. (1910). Introductory Essay on the Authenticity and Authorship of the Book of Numbers).
 “an unbreakable promise(Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide)
 “a perpetual obligation” (Kurlansky, Salt, 7).

 

Salt is the very Word of God. His Word is also:

 

incorruptible“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

 

an unbreakable promise “So shall My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

 

a perpetual obligation“‘This is My covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My Words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, not from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from now and forever’” (Isaiah 59:21).

 

 

Our every prayer must be salted with the Word of God. Not only should we use Biblical prayers as our templates, we must also listen quietly for His Word which He brings to our attention. Is there a verse fragment that we remember while praying? Go search for it. God is dialoging with you. Are you impressed to pray for peace or strength over a situation? Use an online concordance to find verses along those lines as a starting point to prayer. God is directing you exactly how to pray.

 

We do not know how to pray as we should (Romans 8:26). Much that we do pray must be burned up as “fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13). Yet as our prayers are sprinkled with the salt of His Word, we can be assured that our prayers have permanence. Praying in this way scatters eternality in every utterance.

 

After words of our prayer have ceased, it is the salt of His Word that remains. Indeed, “The Word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Peter 1:25). Hallelujah!

 

May our prayers be much salted with His Word. This Word that is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway is the only enduring portion of our incense (Psalm 119:105). May the Word of Christ truly dwell within us so that all of our intercession, confession, listening and worship will be acceptable to the One to Whom we pray (Colossians 3:16; Psalm 19:14).

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Missed the previous posts in this series?

 

Praying with Spice 1 – the symbolism in stacte and onycha

Praying with Spice 2 – the significance of galbanum

Praying with Spice 3 – the search for frankincense