Today, Saturday April 23
“The Prayers of All the Saints” Revelation 8:1-6 “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
When the seventh seal is open in heaven three things happen almost immediately. There is silence in heaven for half an hour. An angel gives seven trumpets to seven other angels. And third, an angel offers incense with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God.
Have you ever wondered what happens when you pray? Where do your prayers go? Does it matter whether or not that you pray? I believe we find some of the answers to these questions in this passage before us.
In the tabernacle and temple, the golden altar stood before the veil and was used for burning incense. Moses was given instructions on how to make this altar in Exodus 30:1-10: “You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length and a cubit its width--it shall be square--and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay its top, its sides all around, and its horns with pure gold; and you shall make for it a molding of gold all around.”
In the Gospel of Luke chapter one, Zacharias was performing this ministry of burning incense on the golden altar, there in the temple in Jerusalem, when the angel told him that he and Elizabeth would have a son and that they were to name him John.
Burning incense on this altar was a picture of prayer ascending to God. We read about this is in Psalm 141:1-2: “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
The "prayers of the saints" (Rev. 8:4) are not the prayers of a special group of people in heaven who have arrived at "sainthood." To begin with, all God's children are saints (2 Cor. 1:1; 9:1, 12; 13:13). The moment that you repented of your sins and by faith, ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you and come into your heart and life, you became a “saint”. Some people have the mistaken idea that the saints are a special group of people, who because of certain accomplishments were declared to be saints by some church. You are a saint if you have been born again! To be a “saint” simply means that you have been “set apart” and made holy by the Holy Spirit in Christ. Now, to be sure, there are many “saints” who definitely are not living like saints! But they are still saints in God’s eyes.
Also, there is no definite teaching in the Scriptures that people in heaven pray for believers on earth, or that we can direct our prayers to God through them. We pray directly to the Father through the Son, for He alone is worthy (Rev. 5:3). We are told in 1 Timothy 2:5 that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus”. Jesus taught us pray in His name directly to the Father. “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23). Nowhere in scripture are we told to pray to Mary or anyone else for that matter.
From this passage in Revelation 8, it appears that all the prayers of all the saints throughout the centuries have been somehow captured and become a part of this incense that is burning on the altar before a holy God! Your prayers can definitely make an immediate difference the moment you pray them, to find strength, courage and grace to help in your time of need or for someone else. But they also have eternal significance.
Today, take time to pray in Jesus’ name!