Have you ever read a verse in your Bible that you keep thinking about over and over again, almost like a song getting stuck in your head? My reading has progressed to Revelation again and I read these verses from the fifth chapter a couple days ago:
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 And when He had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because You were slain,
and with Your blood You purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
The following day I read from the eighth chapter:
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
Let me pause and say that I recognize that Revelation speaks of end times and heavenly beings and is a lot to comprehend, even for devout Christians. But did you notice in both those chapters that the prayers of God’s people were being offered to God with incense as an offering (likely a pleasing aroma)?
It made me think about what my prayers typically consist of. We give thanks at dinner, but it’s become more of a ritual than true thanksgiving, if I’m being honest. We are thanking God for our food, but there are times that we’re more focused on what’s in front of us than honoring God for giving it to us. Then there are the typical hurried prayers, “Lord, please find me a parking space! I hate that there’s never enough parking on campus!” or the prayers for safety “God, please keep my kids safe at school and please keep us safe as we drive on these slick roads. AMEN!” I honestly believe God cares about the details of our lives (Psalm 37:23) and that when we don’t have something it’s because we haven’t asked God for it (James 4:2). So praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) is important – we can talk to God about what we need and what’s on our minds because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)! But is prayer solely to be about our needs, wants or demands?
In looking at how Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began with saying “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Luke 11:2). This prayer started by declaring the holiness of God, the greatness of His name, which leads us into a mindset of declaring that God is righteous and holy. Our Heavenly Father is loving and cares deeply for our needs – doesn’t that inspire us to thank Him with truly grateful hearts and declare His praise? Do we honor Him with our prayers, our mind, our speech and our lives? Or have we gotten so busy that we have come down with a bad case of the “gimme gimme’s.”
When the prayers mentioned in Revelation are offered to God along with incense, I want there to be an offering from me, from my family, from my friends and from anyone reading this post. Take a moment to praise God, to offer a prayer about His awesomeness, to thank Him for all He is and all He does. He is worthy of our time and our sincere affection!
Father God, thank You for Your holy Word. Thank You for reminding us of who You are and all that You have done. God, You have continued to bless us from the moment time began up until this very second. Your plans for our lives are good, and Your timing is perfect. Your plans for eternity will come to pass, and nothing can stop You because You are Lord over all. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done. Thank You for being holy, honest, pure, true, loving, gracious, compassionate and merciful. We praise You, glorify You and love You! Please receive our prayers as an offering that pleases You. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!