“Prayers are deathless.” These are the attention-grabbing words of E. M. Bounds (1835–1913), whose classic writings on prayer have inspired people for generations. His comments about the power and enduring nature of our prayers continue with these words: “The lips that uttered them may be closed to death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; they outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.”
Have you ever wondered if your prayers—particularly those birthed out of difficulty, pain, and suffering—ever make it to God? The insightful words from Bounds remind us of the significance of our prayers and so does Revelation 8:1–5. The setting is heaven (v. 1), the throne room of God and the control center of the universe. Angelic attendants stand in God’s presence (v. 2) and one angel, like the priests of old, offers Him incense along with the prayers of “all God’s people” (v. 3). How eye-opening and encouraging to have this picture of the prayers offered on earth rising to God in heaven (v. 4). When we think that our prayers may have been lost in transit or forgotten, what we see here comforts us and compels us to persist in our praying, for our prayers are precious to God!
When have you questioned whether God really listens to Your prayers? How can passages like Revelation 8:1–5 breathe new life into them?
The book of Revelation is one of the most mysterious portions of the Bible. It’s filled with symbolism, metaphors, word pictures, and sweeping action. For centuries, scholars have disagreed about the meanings of these prophetic portraits. Several things are clear, however. First, the book is more about Jesus than about the events described. Revelation begins by calling itself “The revelation from Jesus Christ” (1:1). Revelation means an unveiling, so the book of Revelation is about Jesus unveiling these things. Second, it was written to real churches facing real challenges and was intended to comfort and encourage them in those trials (chs. 2–3). Third, the story of Revelation is about reversing the effects of our first parents’ fall into sin. They were separated from God and His perfect garden and these good things are restored by Christ’s victory (chs. 21–22).