Revelation 8:4 “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
God’s Order for Prayer
In this passage the incense given to the angel and mingled with the prayers of God’s people, pictures the tabernacle’s Priestly responsibility of offering prayers before God at the altar of incense in the Holy Place. A cloud of sweet smelling smoke would fill the room as it rose before God. When the angel poured the incense on the altar it also signified God’s acceptance of the prayers that were offered.
This angel in the previous verse comes before the golden altar in front of the throne. He has a golden censer with him as he came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense in his censer to offer together with the prayers of all God’s people.
This scene reflects the pattern of the earthly tabernacle described in Exodus 25: 8-9. That tabernacle was built according to the pattern God had shown Moses on Mount Sinai. This is an excellent picture of the prayers of God’s people continually being offered before His Throne. This scene was indelibly marked in the minds of God’s people throughout history. Many passages on prayer in the Psalms use the analogy of the tabernacle. “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).
Your Prayers are answered on time
When it comes to answered prayer you must remember that God has a timetable. Waiting on God in prayer is almost a lost truth in a fast paced society. Both the Old and New Testaments show that waiting on God in prayer was a normal practice. King David wrote; “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before youand wait expectantly“ (Psalm 5:3). Daniel had an Angelic visitation while he was waiting on God in prayer. The Angel said to him “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them” (Daniel 10:12).
I’m reminded of Acts chapter ten when Cornelius was visited by an Angel while he was praying. The Angel tells him “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God” (Acts 10:4). Both his good works and his prayers had “ascended” together before God as a memorial and have been accepted. The Angel was sent with the answer to those prayers.
There is no telling how long Cornelius prayed before his answer came, but we can be sure that God had already determined a time for the answer when the requests were first offered. God has every last detail of your life recorded in His book of remembrance, and He has not forgotten a single prayer you have ever uttered.
The Answered Prayer Factory
Think for a moment of the tabernacle pattern for prayer as God’s answered prayer factory. Like a well ordered factory assembly line, God has many components working together carrying your prayers along with your acts of obedience down the line from the moment they arrived. Just as that factory has schedules and deadlines to keep, your prayers have a scheduled answer, and God’s “Answered prayer factory” is always on time.
Jesus your High priest is there always making intercession for you before the Throne. The Holy Spirit is here always helping you in every instance when you do not know what to pray for as you should. Angels are mentioned countless times in the Scriptures in connection with answering the prayers of God’s people, and you are no exception.
So go to prayer with renewed confidence and expectations for an answer. Think about that “answered prayer factory” operating twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. The angelic beings involved in shipping and receiving are on a precise delivery schedule. Offer your prayers as a sweet smelling incense before God, mingle them with thanksgiving and praise. Keep your eyes fixed on that spiritual mailbox, wait with expectancy as you would a valuable parcel, and Be Encouraged! -JSP