How consistent and effectual are your prayers? Do your prayers even matter? After all, God will do as He pleases anyway. Do you ever wonder if God even hears you when you pray, because you approach Him so half-heartedly? In Revelation 8, we encounter a scene that should hit us like a splash of cold water in our faces and sober us up to the reality that our prayers are powerful, crucial to the execution of God’s plan, impacting the world in which we live.
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 the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 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.
Revelation 8:3 – 5
This event follows the silence in heaven, but precedes the sounding of the first four of the seven trumpets, apparently signifying that what follows, the judgments upon “those who dwell upon the earth,” represent the Lord’s answer to “the prayers of all the saints!”
I think this raises some serious considerations for us, as we pray for the hallowing of our Father’s name, the coming of His Kingdom and the accomplishment of His will, in and through us.
- First, let us take note that, although the trumpet judgments are administered by angels, it is the Lamb Himself Who opens the seals and gives them the authority to carry out His decrees. The fire from the altar, hurled upon the earth is the result of the prayers of all the saints going up before God. This judgment comes from God in answer to the prayers of His people, to avenge their suffering.
- This “payback” upon the earth dwellers is carried out by an angel, but doesn’t Bible tell us that we are not to take vengeance? Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
- That seems clear enough, but what about praying for vengeance or that God will demonstrate His glory in pouring out wrath upon rebellious mankind? Although we are not permitted to take vengeance ourselves, we find in the Word a number of positive examples, encouraging us to pray not only for the repentance and salvation of those who persecute us, but that justice will also be done, God’s name vindicated and that His enemies will be put under His feet.
- They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Revelation 6:10
- Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland. Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. Psalms 79:6 – 10
- The altar is before the throne and the incense cloud of the saints’ prayers rises into his presence – it’s a sweet aroma – they are acceptable prayers, pleasing to God (Psalm 141:2). Yes, sometimes we are to pray for God’s glory to be displayed in His wrath, avenging the suffering of His people and this is pleasing to Him.
- For those of us, following Christ through the thick of the battle, this should encourage us to know that our prayers are not overlooked, set aside or forgotten — God will speedily demonstrate that we are His people and vindicate Himself completely as the One Who is loving, merciful, longsuffering, compassionate, as well as just, severe and righteous. Our suffering, as well as our persistent prayers play a part in hallowing God’s name before the entire world!
- All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 – 10
In conclusion, as a disciple of Jesus, do you ever pray that the suffering of God’s people be avenged? Do you even remember to “hallow His name” or pray for the coming of the Kingdom? Be careful how you pray.
So I’m not the only one to notice this. We wonder so much how it is that God is so violent in this book, but it seems to me that in many ways it is the prayers of the saints that are often the cause. In the 5th seal, the saints are told to shut up basically, but for for the trumpets and bowls it appears that we do not.