In a recent Bible study our minister went through the book of Malachi, which tells us how upset and disappointed God was with the defiled sacrifices offered by Israel. Our minister said that our prayers are part of the sacrifices we offer to God. It made me wonder, What is there about prayer that is a sacrifice? What do we give up of value when we pray?
One thing is our attention, our whole heart. For some of us, focusing is a real effort. However, it is how our spirit reaches out to God, just as we would reach a hand out to a friend.
We also give our time, which is our life. Sometimes it is just a moment when something pops to mind or a prayer over a meal, but usually our prayers are longer and follow the example Christ gave.
When we pray with a right attitude, we know these sacrifices are pleasing to God. In Revelation 5:8, 8:4 and Psalm 141:2 our prayers are described as sweet incense to God and likened to an evening sacrifice. In plain language, He enjoys hearing from us.
So what we sacrifice comes back to us "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" (Luke 6:38). This makes our prayer life a real joy and hardly something we would think of as a sacrifice.