Scripture Revelation 8:3-5
3 Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 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, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
- Censer — used in worship to spread incense
- The incense was “mixed” with the prayers of the saints
- Is the censer filled with fire and flung to earth still intertwined in some way with the prayers of the saints??
- There is a great quantity of incense — to go with a great quantity of prayers?
Some of John’s vision in Revelation is hard to imagine or envision. I imagine the symbolism/imagery would be more readily “accessible” to those who first heard these words.
The image of the incense mixing with the prayers of the saints is compelling. They prayers almost sound like they have a physical reality, a presence of their own – a substance even. When I think of prayer I think of words spoken and somehow heard by God. But what if they also have some reality that I don’t understand, some substance to them? Probably much too speculative but an image worth pondering.
And the censor that was used by the angel gets flung to the earth. The image I have is that the prayers are part of this picture of then – that the prayers of the saints (as we fervently hope and might dare to believe!) have a power on earth that is beyond our ability to understand. But is real and is vital in the plans and purposes of God.
O Lord of Glory and Might – my prayers rise to you as the incense in John’s vision. Give me a sense of their reality, their power, their substance beyond just the words I say or the thoughts I think. They are power and they are real. May I see this so with my eyes as I believe it with my heart. Amen.