The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God. Revelation 8:4
Dr. Gary Greenberg has magnified and photographed sand from beaches around the world, often revealing surprising, vibrant splashes of color from the minerals, shell, and coral fragments contained within.
He’s discovered there’s more to sand than meets the eye. In arenology (the study of sand), the microscopic analysis of sand’s mineral content can reveal much about erosion, shore currents, and their potential effects on coastlines. Even a little sand can yield information of great worth!
A single prayer, like a grain of sand, can be a weighty thing. Scripture indicates prayer’s powerful role in the coming of God’s kingdom. In Revelation 8, John sees an angel standing at the altar before His throne holding a golden censer containing “the prayers of all God’s people.” “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (vv. 3, 5).
Immediately after the angel hurled the censer filled with fire and prayer, seven angels with seven trumpets “prepared to sound them” (v. 6), heralding this old earth’s last days and Christ’s return.
Sometimes we may not feel like our prayers add up to much, but God doesn’t miss one. He so values them that they somehow even play a role in the consummation of His kingdom. What may seem like the smallest prayer to us can have earth-shaking weight with Him!
Why do you think Jesus wants us to pray for God’s kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10)? In what ways can you stay faithful in prayer today?
Heavenly Father, please help me to be faithful in prayer today.
Learn more about the act of prayer.
Exiled on the island of Patmos, the apostle John wrote of his prophetic visions about God’s future program, which he called “the revelation [apokalypsis] from Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1–4). As apocalyptic writing, Revelation uses symbolic, figurative, and metaphoric language to describe God’s end-time events. John wrote of His severe judgment being poured out on the earth in the seven sealed scrolls (ch. 6), trumpets (ch. 8), and bowls (ch. 16). In the interlude between the judgment of the sealed scrolls and trumpets, he wrote of “incense” offered to God (8:3). In the Bible, incense symbolically denotes “the prayers of all God’s people” (8:3; see 5:8; Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10). We’re not told what these prayers were, but earlier, the Christian martyrs had prayed for divine justice and vindication (Revelation 6:9–11). John tells us that “the prayers of God’s people, went up before God” (8:4). Scholars say these prayers are answered in 15:7–8; 16:5–6; and 19:2.