The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God. . . .
In our reading today, another thought-provoking scene unfolds. Yesterday we reflected on a half-hour of silence that took place when Jesus opened the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1-2). And now an angel offers incense to go with “the prayers of all God’s people” being lifted up to the Lord.
Prayers are a fitting response to the command “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Our prayers are expressions of faith in God’s promise to be “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
The picture here invites us to see that God always hears our prayers. “The prayers of all God’s people” include the prayers of children, of people just learning to pray, and of believers who have prayed for many years.
My friend Hank may have thought his prayers had no effect. He prayed that his coworker would come to believe in Jesus. But his coworker did not change, and after a while the two moved on to different jobs. When they met again years later, however, Hank was delighted to find that his former coworker had become a follower of Jesus. Hank asked, “What happened to make the change?” His friend said, “I listened to the prayers you gave when you invited me over for dinner in your home. You had a closeness to God that stirred my soul.”
Though the timing may not be what we expect, God always answers our prayers!
Thank you, Lord, for listening to all our prayers. Help us to trust in you as our ever-present help—always! Amen.