Saturday, August 20, 2016

Awesome, Wonderful, Powerful Prayer

This week I’ve been thinking about two Bible passages on prayer: Revelation 8:3-5 and Luke 6:12. We’ll look at the passage from Revelation first.

The Double Blessing of Prayer

Revelation 8:
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.
5 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.

In this passage we see two awesome effects of our prayers.

First, we see that our prayers our pleasing to God, our Heavenly Father.  In God’s throne room, our prayers feel to him like a pleasing, fragrant aroma.  This is a beautiful way of showing that our prayers have a pleasant and positive effect for God!

King David understood this same truth and wrote:

Psalm 141:2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

It might seem strange that a simple act of prayer from “normal people” like you and me could make God feel happy as He sits in His majestic throne room surrounded by incredible Heavenly creatures and hosts of angels.  But remember, you, Christian, are God’s child.

Yesterday we dropped Joy off at college.  I already miss her!  Her short text to me early this morning has made my day a little happier.  And that is how God feels about you.  He loves you even more than you love your children (it’s hard to believe, but it is true!) and He is delighted to hear from you.

Second, after God hears our prayer, He returns powerful answers to earth. In Revelation 8, this is symbolized by the angel filling the censer which holds our prayers with fire and hurling it down to earth. Prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16, Exodus 17:11; Matthew 7:7).

The fact that the angel was given “much incense” implies that there was a lot of prayer.  On the one hand, this refers to the encouraging truth that at any moment all around our planet, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are praying to God.  On the other hand, this also should encourage each of us to pray a lot.  This brings us to the passage in Luke and . . .

The Example of Jesus

Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Jesus prayed a lot. In the example above he prayed all through the night.  Our Lord also encouraged His followers to pray a lot (Luke 18:1, Luke 22:40).  His disciples learned to pray and they prayed a lot (Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42, Acts 4:31, Acts 6:4, Acts 10:9, Acts 16:25). 

His disciples in turn encouraged all of us to pray a lot (Romans 12:12, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Practical Tips to Help You Really Do It

In our adult Sunday School class, we are studying James.  James emphasizes that we need to put into action what we believe (James 1:22).  So here are three simple, practical things you can DO to increase your prayer life.

1.  Increase your daily prayer time by setting a specific goal for focused “closet prayer” and using a stop watch or clock.  I often do this.  Sometimes I think I’ve been praying for a long time, then I look at my stop watch and it’s only been eight minutes!  Often during the last few minutes of my “prayer goal”, the Spirit brings to my mind very important things to pray about that I would have missed if I had gotten up too quickly.

2.  Plan a special extended prayer time, of an hour or more.  We plan for work, vacation, parties, dinner, and all kind of events.  Plan ahead of time to set aside a morning, an evening, or some other time for extended prayer when you can pray more than you usually do.

3.  Plan and meet with a friend or several friends for a time of focused prayer.  Be intentional about praying first and not letting your time be all used up with chatting.

If you actually do one or more of these three things, and you feel it would be appropriate, it would encourage me if you send me a short note at:

So pray!  God will be blessed as your prayers ascend like fragrant incense in His throne room, and your world will be changed as He sends powerful answers.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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