What I find most meaningful regarding this altar is that the smoke was to represent the prayers of the people, rising up to God's ears.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
The priests were considered to be mediators between the people and God. They would bring the prayers of the people before the presence of God.
Leviticus 1:9 tells of how the aroma's from the sacrifices (including the incense) was a pleasing fragrance to the Lord. So just imagine when you pray that your prayers rise up to God as a pleasing aroma to Him. Remember, He is not a genie here to grant your every wish and desire. Our prayers are how we can connect with our God, spirit to spirit. It pleases Him when we pray to Him.