The four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them . . . golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. Revelation 5:8
My house smells so good today. Around noon I put a hambone— thick with pink meat—into a slow cooker filled with pinto beans. Now the scent of ham and beans is filling the air. This dish was a staple of my childhood, one of my favorite meals. And I could always be certain that the aroma of beans cooking meant that soon another fragrance would be coming from the kitchen: cornbread. Later today I’ll make a skillet of that too. I just slid a marble cake into the oven. Its buttery, cocoa scent mingles with the other odors, and it all seems homey.
When, as a child, I first came upon Revelation 5:8, I was amazed to think that prayer might have a smell when it got up to God. Did prayers smell like incense? Roses? Fragrant spices? Fresh dewy mornings or crisp autumn nights? I imagine my mother’s prayers probably smelled like lilacs. Or maybe floor wax. (She loved to clean!) I’d like to think my own prayers smell like love, gratitude, trust—maybe a sort of grapey scent with a touch of freshly fallen snow.
The thing I must be sure of is that my prayers never smell like stagnant water or dust or neglect, that they are fresh every day—just like God’s mercies. Those ham and beans and marble cake and cornbread smells have filled my house now. It’s positively heavenly! And while everything finishes cooking, I have just enough time to offer a quick prayer.
Giver of all that is good, I praise You for Your love and grace. Accept this prayer. May it be a sweet-smelling offering fit for Your presence.
By Mary Lou Carney
(Excerpted from Daily Guideposts)