The idea of burning incense, in the Old Testament is a picture of intercessory prayer.
“The fragrant incense stealing heavenward is a beautiful emblem of intercessory prayer. Let us pray more, not for ourselves so much as for others. This is the sign of grown in grace, when our prayers are fragrant with the names of friend and foe, and mingled with the coals of the golden altar.” – Meyer
Aaron and his descendants were set apart to be in charge of the sacred objects forever, to burn incense in the worship of the Lord, to serve him, and to bless the people in his name. – 1 Chronicles 23:13 GNT
“It is not enough to linger in soft prayer within the vail, we must come forward to bless mankind. He who is nearest to God is closest to man.” – Meyer
It takes a certain kind of focus to be able to pray.
The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray. – 1 Peter 4:7 GNT
In other words, keep a clear head. It is the only way I can pray more effectively, even more appropriately. It is the exercise itself in being self-controlled and alert that leads me to prayer. If I really knew how totally and dependent I am on God and how I can do nothing without Him, I would pray a lot more. If I understood the spiritual battle for the souls of those who have not yet been touched by the Holy Spirit, I would pray with much more focus. If the end of all things is really near, and if I knew what that meant, I guarantee that I would pray.
And so a disciple, who was watching Jesus pray, asked Him as He was finishing, teach us to pray.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1 GNT
John the Baptist had done it. Now I must listen to the Holy Spirit as He begins to teach me how to pray.
John Welch, son-in-law to John Knox, was one of the most faithful men of prayer this world ever saw. He counted that day ill-spent in which seven or eight hours were not used alone with God in prayer and the study of His Word. An old man speaking of him after his death said, “He was a type of Christ.” How came he to be so like his Master? His prayer life explains the mystery. – R. A. Torrey