Worthy Of It All was written by David Brymer and Ryan Hall in 2012, but did not gain widespread popularity until the 2021 release by CeCe Winans. It features a very singable melody and a simple 3-part structure that is easy to remember. The themes and lyrics of the song derive from the Books of Revelation and Colossians. Themes include: the worthiness of Jesus as represented by the Lamb in Revelation 5:6, the prayer and praise of the saints symbolized by incense in Revelation 5:8, and the preeminence (supremacy or greatness) of Jesus described in Colossians 1:15-20.
While the themes of worthiness and greatness are familiar and essential parts of our musical worship, the concept of our prayers rising like incense before the Lord may be more obscure. The use of incense in worship services has a very long history but has generally faded out of the modern context of Protestantism, with Anglicans being a notable exception. Catholics and Orthodox churches however still routinely utilize incense in their worship gatherings.
One of the earliest mentions of incense comes from Exodus 30, where the Lord commands Moses to build an incense altar for the Tabernacle and that it should be used morning and evening so that there would be a continuous sweet-smelling aroma before the presence of the Lord. The connection between incense and prayer can be clearly seen in Psalm 141:1-2 when the psalmist writes, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”
Ligonier Ministries further expounds on the altar of incense.
Like the table of showbread and the lampstand, the altar of incense was made with materials fit for a king — gold and acacia wood. It was also outfitted with poles by which it could be transported like the table was. The similarities stop there, however, for while the lampstand and the table illustrated God’s work to provide His people with light, bread, and other necessities, the altar of incense represented work that the Israelites offered unto the Lord — the work of prayer.
Sometimes, prayer does indeed seem like work. It can be overwhelming when there are so many needs. But our hope and confidence does not come from our own ability to pray “good enough,” but rather in Jesus Christ, who guarantees our prayers are heard and are, in fact, a sweet-smelling aroma before the throne of God. The encouragement of the epic scene described in Revelation 5 is that one day, God will put the final AMEN on those prayers as we join those from every tongue, tribe, and nation worshiping around the throne.
Until then, we get to participate together each Sunday and throughout the week in the work of the saints proclaiming the worthiness of Jesus and the greatness of our God.