You Have a Prayer Altar in Heaven
by Remco Brommet
Last week I found myself drawn to Revelation 8:1-5around the question: how do we pray effectively in these End Times? What I found there is nothing less than stunning in its imagery, promise and power:
“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashed of lighting and an earthquake.”
No time or space to go into an in-depth commentary here, so let me treat you to the highlights and help you turn those into prayer.
- The half hour of silence denotes awestruck “calm before the storm” as heaven gets ready for the seven trumpets, the final and most intense series of shakings to stir humanity to repentance.
- The seven angels are most likely the same ones described as stars in chapter 1 – the “messengers” of the seven churches, representative of God’s people.
- An angel of God comes forward and mixes the prayers of all the saints with incense, so that they rise up to God as smoke. The words of Psalm 141:2 come to mind: “Let my prayers be counted to you as incense.” This whole image denotes acceptance of and delight in, our prayers by God!
- These prayers were first brought to God and presumably put on the altar by the 24 elders in Revelation 5:8. Those elders are widely believed to represent the Body of Christ, twelve from Jewish heritage and 12 from Gentile stock to represent the entirety of God’s people.
- Then the whole kit and caboodle is taken up from the altar as fire and thrown down to earth in the form of loud noises, lighting and an earthquake, as if to announce that the final shakings are about to begin.
So all the prayers, presumably those prayed according to the Scriptural qualifications of being in line with God’s will (1 John 5:14), prayed in faith (James 1:6-8), out of a pure motive (James 4:3), in line with the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9) and in Jesus’ Name (John 14:13014) are on the altar before God. Two thousand years’ worth – billions of prayers. This powerful imagery gives us two things:
1. Promise: your prayers matter. They are heard, accepted, and acted upon from before the throne of God! This is the imagery that demonstrates God, by His own decree, working mightily through the prayers of His people.
2. Responsibility: I don’t know about you but I don’t want my prayers to not be in that bowl. They won’t be if I don’t pray, and they won’t be if all I pray about is my own needs and desires.
Which leads me to our prayer emphasis this week:
- Pray that God helps you come into your true identity as a member of His royal priesthood (1 Peter 1:9) – ministering before His throne on behalf of others, and praying into existence His plans and purposes.
- Pray that, according to your priesthood, God gives you a “prayer assignment” through the Holy Spirit – specific things related to the advance of His kingdom and purposes.
- Pray that God raises up a mighty new movement of prayer here in the US of people stepping out beyond praying for their own needs and participating in kingdom-advancing, Satan-busting, soul-winning, global-reaching prayer.
- Pray that the all-church prayer meeting be restored, re-invigorated, and re-imagined to focus on God’s will for our churches, communities and our global impact and that congregations will discover the thrill of hearts united in prayer for God to do mighty things.
Take heart! Your prayers have been heard, accepted, and are in the bowl!
Audio of 5-14-2020 TI Prayer Call Devotional – You Have a Prayer Altar in Heaven – Remco Brommet