It’s when it comes to the evening that we feel the need to start casting ourselves on God. Why is this? Perhaps because we realise that elements of the day have been lost and wasted. We see that we have followed our noses too much; grabbed the pleasures on offer and missed the opportunities. We also recognise that already, even on a day like a Sunday in which we have spent some time in His presence and received sweet fellowship with the saints, that we have let impatient words slip out, and selfish thoughts.
We must never neglect to listen to others. God speaks to us all the time and in all places. In particular, he will make especial effort to communicate his deepest and most important messages through friends, through loved ones. How is it that a friend can say something a dozen times, and still we just ignore it. We justify it by saying: ‘That’s what you always say.’ But actually, God has been speaking to you through that friend and you were sinfully choosing not to listen. It is wilfully deaf ears and wilfully blind eyes that receive condemnation in the Bible.
It does not matter, that parts of the day have been lost. It does not matter, that some things are now going to need to be done tomorrow. What matters, now, is that the incense arises to God. The evening sacrifice: the prayer of rededication. The prayer of recognition, of thanksgiving. The prayer of surrender. The prayer of hope.
In the blaze and then the embers of the evening sacrifice stirs the spark that will light tomorrow’s fire. It is the preparation of our heart for the altar at the time of the evening sacrifice, that will ensure a purer, brighter, longer-lasting flame for the next day. Let’s lift our hearts to Him now. (Psalm 141).
1 O LORD, come quickly; hear me pray
with lifted hands at close of day.
May all my evening prayers arise
like incense from the sacrifice.
2 Guard lips and heart, without, within,
so that I do not relish sin.
LORD, let my footsteps never stray
where evildoers point the way.
3 O righteous LORD, your chastisement,
through friend or foe, in love is sent.
Though grievous, it will profit me;
a healing ointment it will be.
4 When evil deeds disrupt my days,
my prayers condemn those evil ways.
The wicked heed my words too late,
when they are faced with death’s dark gate.
5 Keep me from traps that sinners set;
may they be caught in their own net.
Though I am burdened and distressed,
I look, O LORD, to you for rest.