So the silence is broken. Thirty minutes went by and the tension built. What would happen next?
“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. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, 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 v 3-5)
Remember the martyrs? “How long O Lord until we see justice?” (6 v 10) They are at the altar crying for justice. These were prayers which formed incense. They were specific questioning prayers plus also prayers of ALL of God’s people, yours and mine, confused prayers, ‘HELP’ prayers, agonising prayers, all kinds of prayers over every generation were on the altar. Not one prayer had fallen to the ground.
The prayer was fire in the hand of the angel and brought judgment upon the earth. Prayer shook the earth. Prayer isn’t only about getting things in your life but it is, according to what John saw, being part of God’s judgment upon this fallen world.
This world will be judged. God will do it through using prayer. Those cries over a cancerous child, a broken home, a war-torn nation rise before God. Those unutterable heart-ache groans because you cannot find the words have produced a smoke rising to God.
There will come a day and maybe those days are upon us when what we see on the earth is not only evil but the Angel of judgment. Maybe every generation since John has experienced heaven’s judgment on the earth and perhaps this just intensifies as time heads to some finale. Maybe there is an unseen battle that is reliant on the pathetic, weak, helpless prayers of you and me in order to see heaven on earth.
If this is so then that not only explains the power of prayer but why we are tempted to pray less. More prayer, more incense and the more God judges the sin, evil and death in this world.
So we pray let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Come Lord Jesus come.