Have you ever made the following statement or heard someone say, “It seems my prayers are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere.” I’ve said this before; I’m sure many others have as well. Where do our prayers go when we pray? In the previous two installments we talked about “what prayer is” and the fact that “it is a legal petition or supplication.” With this in mind; in this installment we will discuss the third key to effective prayer – Understand where your prayers are going.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to pray without ceasing. In other words, “Never stop praying.” This is very wise instruction for the wellness of life, but few understand where their prayers are going once they are released into the atmosphere.
Here’s a profound truth: When we pray we are literally presenting a petition or supplication before the Throne of God in Heaven. How do we know this? We can take what’s recorded in the Book of Revelation chapter 5; verse 8 as evidence. In this verse we get a glimpse as to where our prayers go and what happens when they are received. I must warn you first; the Apostle John’s graphic vision is most definitely not for the uninitiated or unbelieving. Check this out:
When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Ok…before we get totally freaked out over the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders and miss the point; let’s focus on the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. What does this speak to you? Well, let’s unpack what I believe this short scripture is revealing. When we pray our prayers are so precious to God that they are stored in golden bowls. In truth, the prayers of the believers (saints) are so special that they are given the same level of significance as the sacred incense which was made of costly materials that the congregation contributed (Exodus 25:1, 2, 6; 35:4, 5, 8, 27-29).
In former times, the incense offeringin Judaism was related to perfumed offerings on the Altar of Incense in the time of the Tabernacle and the First and Second Temple period, and was an important component of priestly liturgy in the Temple in Jerusalem. The incense presented on the alter paints a beautifully vivid picture of how the smoke rose upward towards the sky; showing how our prayers rise towards the throne of God.
Why is it important to know with certainty where our prayers go? Having confidence that our prayers are viewed as precious to God, gives us the increased confidence to do exactly what 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to do…pray continually without stopping. Let the following Scripture resound in your spirit offered in 1 John 5:14, 15:
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him.
Wow! If that doesn’t encourage your heart as it does mine I don’t know what else to say that will. Purposely knowing where my prayers are going and that God places a high regard to them is extremely empowering. I hope it does for you as well my friend. Our next installment we will focus on: Who do we pray to? Don’t miss it…until then God willing be blessed.