Prayer, Glue Sticks and All-Consuming Fire

If you’ve paid any kind of attention to the news in the last week, you’ve probably felt the same as me. Shocked. Sickened. Helpless. Fearful. Heavy.

People are dying horrific deaths. Children are starving and worse. Warfare has broken out and disease has taken over. Things seem to be crumbling.

The helplessness I feel is maddening…and then there’s the outrageous cost of school supplies.

Isn’t it ironic?

Children are being martyred for their faith because they and their families won’t deny Christ, and I grumble about glue sticks.

 But what can I do? What can we do?

Helplessness often seems to like to manifest itself as apathy, at least in my life. If I can’t do something that seems substantial, I won’t do anything at all.  

Instead I’ll just think about the most cost effective way to buy those glue sticks. There’s a value pack, after all.

So that’s good news.


I was thinking this week about the foolishness of my teen-hood. There was plenty of it, to be sure, but in particular I was reflecting on one Sunday morning years ago when my pastor introduced that his sermon would be about prayer.

I wish I didn’t, but I almost remember rolling my eyes.

I don’t need this, I thought. It has nothing to do with me.

So I proceeded instead to meditate on something my teenage mind deemed more valuable, most likely boys or lunch.

So, yes, you are correct if you’re thinking the following about me:

I was a flipping moron.

(As seen here at about that age:)

With my brothers, circa 1999.

With my brothers, circa 1999.

Or more accurately, here:



There’s more than one place in scripture that I’ve never understood, especially in the Old Testament. So I tend to skip over those spots. It’s just easier, really.

(Note: I am still a moron.)

This week, because of an incredibly amazing Bible study I am a part of, one of those tricky passages came shouting at me loud and clear, demanding that I hear it for what it is.

And, oh man, is it good.

Because, friends, it basically says: WE ARE NEVER HELPLESS HERE.


In the book of Exodus, Nadab and Abihu were nephews of Moses and part of the priesthood that served in the tabernacle of Lord.

Serving as priests was serious business, as evidenced in the specific instructions and measurements for its creation and the creation of every item in it, which, incidentally, is the like the Bermuda Triangle of the Bible. Many a plan to read through the entire Word has sunk in Exodus and Leviticus. Those instructions are just so…intense.

And their ramifications were intense.

We don’t know a lot about these guys, but we do know this: Nadab and Abihu “…offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Lev. 10:1b-2)

So, yeah, that’s one of those places you skip, ‘cause, seriously, God, that seems a little hasty, doesn’t it?

(Here’s the part where I attempt to explain that it’s not hasty, by trying to tell you in 200 words what I’ve been learning over six weeks. Hang with me though.)

There were two altars the priests tended to. This was the bulk of their job.

They conducted animal sacrifices on one altar as restitution for their sins and the sins of the people. On the second altar, they burned incense, which, we are told, represents the prayers of the saints.

God had commanded that the Altar of Incense was to only be lit by fire that had originated from under the Altar of Sacrifice. Nadab and Abihu’s fatal mistake came from using fire from some other source to light the Alter of Incense.

But why was this a big deal?

For the incense to be pleasing to the Lord, it had to come from a place first bathed in the blood of the sacrifice.

Translation: For the prayers of the saints (that’s us New Testament Christians!) to be pleasing to and heard by God, they must first be bathed in the blood of the Sacrifice. (That’s Jesus!)


Coming before God in prayer and praise is an incredible privilege and serious business.

How could it not be?

It required the death of his son, the perfect once-for-all sacrifice, for us to be able to even approach him without being immediately consumed by his holy fire.

Without Jesus, we got nuthin’ before God. 

With him, we’ve got everything.

Not to be taken lightly, is it?


So whether our prayers be about Syria or whether they be about school supplies, Father God takes them seriously.

He hears. He acts. He gives us hope.

We are never helpless here.

Believe it.

So pray, friends. Pray.


“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

(I owe the bulk of what I’ve shared here to Beth Moore and her study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place. Do this study if you haven’t already!)


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  1. Heather Bock said:

    This is one of the treasures I love to find in the Old Testament. It’s filled with these gems! I haven’t done this study yet, but I hope to someday! Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hannah Post author said:

      I know, Heather! I’ve actually thought of you several times throughout this study. It is crammed full of symbols of Jesus. But you probably already know that, you Bible study writer, you! 😉


  2. Judy Smith said:

    Thank you Hannah and thank you Beth Moore for pointing out these important principles that we can learn from the bible. As I get older I see more and more how important prayer is and how it shows me how God works.


    1. Hannah Post author said:

      And thanks for being a great prayer-example, Mom. It’s an excellent legacy to leave behind you.


  3. Missy Shrum said:

    I, too, am LOVING this study (even though I can’t seem to get to Rhonda’s to watch the videos :)). My favorite one of hers so far!


    1. Hannah Post author said:

      It has been great, hasn’t it? Although I’ve missed most of the videos too, which is a shame since I’m sure they are AMAZING. Glad we’re in this together though. 🙂


  4. Andrea Garrison said:

    Hannah, thank you for sharing! I have not gone through that study yet. I plan too. Something I have learned about PRAYER over the years…. Prayer is about knowing God. It’s our communication with him. My prayers are not always answered in the way I want them to me answered. He does what is best in fulfilling his plan. It’s amazing how when I am not sure he is hearing me, how my prayers for others are answered and it gives me hope and encouragement to keep praying, keep believing and expecting great things. God is good, it does not mean that everything in my life is good, but God is good. It doesn’t mean he will answer my prayers the way I want, but God is good all the time. It’s ok to be honest with God and tell him how you really feel about things. He understands your need to know why you suffer, he made us. Prayer is my life line. It’s by his grace that I can make it through the day. I am blessed each day to experience his grace.


    1. Hannah Post author said:

      I read your comment this morning and then I was able to tell a friend of mine, in a different situation, that even though God is always good, it doesn’t mean that everything in life is good. Thanks for that wisdom, as always. You are a prayer warrior! I’m glad to have you on my side!


  5. sally apokedak said:

    Great post. I wasn’t aware that the altar of incense had to be it from the altar of sacrifice. God has all these cool pictures in the Bible. It’s amazing to me how it all fits together. Thanks for giving me another piece.

    And what an idiot and ingrate I am when I neglect my right to pray when it was purchased for me at such a great price. Thanks for the reminder!


    1. Hannah Post author said:

      It’s true. This has really opened my eyes to how incredibly holy God is, how incredibly unholy and unworthy I am, and what an amazing privilege that prayer is. Thank you, Jesus! The value of the gift of grace just gets greater and greater the more I learn about it. I am in awe. Thanks, as always, for being such a faithful reader. 🙂


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