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Does Anyone Use Incense in their own Personal Times of Prayer?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Gxg (G²), Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Was seeing whether or not other Orthodox here have ever used incense in their own personal lives when it comes to prayer/intercession. In the service I understand as it's apart of the liturgy...but in the home I was not certain.

    In regards to why I asked, I've grown up seeing others that sadly got involved in drug dealing and the use of drugs for their own personal use. It was always a sad thing to witness...and interesting to see how in well-to-do neighborhoods, it was becoming increasingly apparent that growing pot ( here, here, here, here, etc ).

    But what amazes me is how many against the use of things like pot actually go a step further and seek to condemn the use of incense within churches/prayer--be it in service or in private when in personal prayer.

    [​IMG]



    To me, the issue of incense in liturgical churches (i.e. Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic ) is a very intriguing issue when considering what others have wondered in regards to how incense act as a form of healing....as in example, a component of the resin made from Boswellia trees, more commonly called Frankincense, biochemically relieves anxiety. There was actually an in-depth scientific study on the issue not too long ago concerning how Incense may act as a Psychoactive Drug during Religious Ceremony---as seen here or here in an article one can look up online entitled "Incense May Act As a Psychoactive Drug during Religious Ceremony".

    [​IMG]


    And when seeing the history of Incense ( here, ) in churches/what it meant---as well as how the Bible described it during services--it's interesting to consider....for perhaps the aromatherapy folks were onto something. I don't wish to ever treat something without reverence...but I do think that it's sad whenever people treat the things of the Lord as if there's not a practical aspect to them that the Lord kept in mind when he made it. For others who've often turned to drugs for relief/comfort and feel the Church never has any connection with them on that level, I get saddened because I've always thought that many of their problems would be easily addressed during liturgy/worship.


    For smell is apart of the way that we worship...and with incense in the use of personal prayer, it is interesting to see how often scripture speaks of it. When I pray, the smell of the incense is a physical reminder that, like the smoke, our prayers rise to God, and hopefully are pleasing to him like the fragrance of the incense.

    Exodus 30:6-8
    "Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.


    Leviticus 16:12-13
    And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.


    1 Kings 9:25
    Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.


    Psalm 141:2
    May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.


    Luke 1:9-11
    8Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.



    Matthew 2:11
    On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.



    Revelation 5:8
    And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.


    Revelation 8:3
    Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.


    To be clear, I don't want to do anything that goes into the realm of either idolatry or corruption....for the thought of using incense during personal times of worship/prayer in the home and on your own may come off as being corrupt---and I'm aware of other scriptures that seem to speak on the issue. In example, what is mentioned with Ezekiel 8:16-17 shows others holding incense in a wrong manner...and it is interesting since the phrase "putting the branch to their nose" may describe a ceremonial gesture in pagan worship that is not documented elsewhere in the Bible...but the translation is not certain. Moreover, with what was going on with the incense in their hands that they were holding, it is very sad since the cloud of incense played a prominent role in screening the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:13). Scripture shows Moses recording that the High Priest "shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, lest he die." ...but in the time of Ezekiel, it had become part of a detestable pagan ritual..far from how it was originally meant to be ( Nu 16:17,35; 2Chr26:16,19; Jer7:9 )



    Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary has a nice summary on "Incense" which it defines as the following:
    a sweet-smelling substance that was burned as an offering to God on the altar in the tabernacle and the temple. The purpose of this incense offering was to honor God. Incense symbolized and expressed the prayers of the Hebrew people, which were considered a pleasant aroma offered to God. The incense used in Israelite worship was of a specific composition, considered very sacred. The four substances from which it was made were stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense (Ex 30:34, 35). Some of this was to be ground into powder and placed in front of the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting (Ex 30:36). The use of any other composition of incense or of this particular compound for any other purpose was regarded as sin; this incense alone was to be considered holy (Ex 30:36-38). According to the law, only the priests descended from Aaron could offer incense (Lev 2:2). The priest offered holy incense morning and evening on the altar of incense in front of the veil in the Holy Place in the tabernacle or temple.

    This incense formula specified for use in public ritual was not to be allowed for private use (Ex 30:37, 38).

    Apparently some wealthy individuals were tempted to make their own private supply for personal use.Incense is also mentioned in connection with certain pagan worship practices of the Israelites. The worship of Baal, the queen of heaven, and other foreign gods by means of incense was condemned in the Old Testament (1Ki11:8 records that wise King Solomon built high places "for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods"). The Lord warned that he would destroy the pagan incense altars (Lev 26:30; 2Chr. 30:14). The burning of incense at the pagan shrines on “high places” and to other gods was strongly denounced ("Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched." 2Ki22:17; 2Ch34:25). The use of incense appeared widespread in connection with Israelite lapses into pagan worship (Jer11:12, 17; 48:35). Another misuse of incense is mentioned in 2Chr26:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. This passage describes how King Uzziah was afflicted by the Lord, who caused leprosy to break out on his forehead because he had attempted to burn incense in the temple. This duty was reserved for the priestly descendants of Aaron. The New Testament church did not adopt the use of incense in worship. In fact, the use of it was considered a work of paganism and was banned by the first Christian emperors. However, later in church history incense was again widely used. In a figurative use of the word, the psalmist requested that his prayer might be brought before the Lord as incense (Ps 141:2)" (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)


    [​IMG]


    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times]This ungodly incense burner, decorated with sacred serpents, was discovered in the excavation of the Canaanite temple at Beth Shan[/FONT]​



    On the subject of incense, Torrey's Topical Handbook is a great place to go for more reference.

    If anyone could help me out on what I'm struggling to find truth in, I'd love to hear sometime :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  2. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    To be clear, in regards to the OP, the question is asked in light of my own development in the Monastic lifestyle and pursuit of Christ... In view of how many within the Ethopian Monastic traditions of the Ethopian Orthodox churches have done (here, here and here). It has been my heart for sometime to develop more of a monastic/monk lifestyle and the subject or prayer and incense is where I'm currently wrestling....with the conversation I had with a friend recently on drugs sparking the subject to mind. For again, it does sadden me to witness how many turn to things like drugs in an abusive manner to find peace/tranquility and yet never realize how the yearnings of their heart can be found in ancient worship of the Lord---with the practical and spiritual addressed simultaneously when incense is used properly. But I could be off...and if I am, my apologies.
     
  3. Ortho_Cat

    Ortho_Cat Orthodox Christian

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    yes, many people burn incense in their homes during private worship/prayer and cense their icons, etc. I'm not in a situation where i'd be able to currently, but perhaps eventually :)

    Orthodoxy teaches that we are the priests over our households in a way...so this would make sense.
     
  4. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Would you mind explaining why it's the case that you're not in the position currently to have incense in your own home?
    I think alot of people sometimes feel that using incense, be it for spiritual purposes such as prayer or theraputic purposes such as physical healing (as it has been known to be a powerful healing agent), often think that those doing so much have supervision of a priest in order for it to be legitimate.
     
  5. Anhelyna

    Anhelyna Handmaid of God Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Smoke alarms can be a problem ;)
     
  6. ProScribe

    ProScribe Well-Known Member

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    Yes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  7. Mary of Bethany

    Mary of Bethany Only one thing is needful. Supporter

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  8. Dylan Michael

    Dylan Michael Senior Veteran

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    I only did once when I was home alone for a week. (My family does not like the smell, so I couldn't have it lingering.)
    I wonder where my hand censer is, I'd forgotten about it when I moved out to seminary.
     
  9. gorion

    gorion Sinner

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    I love incense.
     
  10. Joseph Hazen

    Joseph Hazen The Religious Loudmouth

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    We use incense during Evening Prayer. If we ever start doing Morning Prayer, then perhaps then as well. Sometimes, if something bad is happening (someone's very sick or something similar) I'll light incense and pray, and leave it burning while I go throughout my housework.

    OP: Just because you brought it up, the Ethiopians are not in Communion with the Eastern Orthodox, and most would say, I'm sure, that it is very unwise to seek to follow any sort of monastic lifestyle outside of a community and especially without a Spiritual Father. Something to consider.
     
  11. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Good to know..
    To be clear, I have never said they were, as they're with Oriental Orthodoxy (as are the Syrians, the Coptic believers, Indian, etc) and what I'm more in agreement with/have shared on before (here , here and hereand #10 ).
    More than aware of it, even though monastic communities may be disconnected from other communities. But principles are principles regardless, even in the event that a Spiritual Father may or may not be present since other monastic concepts were lived out by individuals in times where isolation was present. To be clear, I'm thankful for the community I have present on my side of the street and the believers in monastic living that've encouraged me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  12. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Is there a type of incense you enjoy more than others?
     
  13. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    That's what was told to me once on the issue since I was warned that it's good to have your family members know what's going on so that you don't come off to others as if you may be somehow schnockered .....:)
     
  14. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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  15. Protoevangel

    Protoevangel A time comes when silence is betrayal.

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    I use Desert Fathers Incense as well.

    I do have a couple of censers, but Columbina makes the highest-quality incense I've encountered. Like Mary said, the ease of her stick incense is helpful. I can light it and get right to my prayers, instead of worrying about the charcoal popping and burning the carpet of my rental home.
     
  16. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Having the floor of my home burn up is the main fear I've had with the use of charcoals, even if they're contained. Part of me doesn't want to have to explain to others that the house burned down due to some struggles in prayer time:):D
     
  17. Mary of Bethany

    Mary of Bethany Only one thing is needful. Supporter

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    I could get a censer from my parish, but I don't think my husband would be comfortable with it in the home. I think that might be too much for him. :)

    Mary
     
  18. Blackknight

    Blackknight Servant of God

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    I burn incense once in a while. It's comforting and it makes the house smell nice.
     
  19. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member

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    I can't have incense because I live in a barracks room, but I would if I could. I did when I was in college

    yeah, there is a Paschal kind from the Holy Land that a buddy had, and it was awesome.
     
  20. Kristos

    Kristos Servant

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    Yes, when I have time.
     
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