Prayers of the Saints
On the heels of describing the troubling conditions of the dark days ahead, Jesus tells His listeners the parable of the widow before the unjust judge and the necessary ingredient to make it through. Men ought always to pray and faint not . . . (Luke 18:1–8). He obviously knew that the dreadful hullabaloo going on down here would tempt us to lose heart in our prayers and even turn coward. Lord knows I’ve had more than my share of faintheartedness while wielding my mustard-seed faith at mountains that get in the way of my pilgrimage in Christ (Matthew 17:20). I am quite familiar with those loss-of-confidence-in-my-prayers kinds of days.
Thankfully, He never left me to my malady, but has given me the bonafide cure-all for all future fainting. It requires that I take a virtual trip to the throne room where we are seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . (Ephesians 2:6). One doesn’t have to be a Bible scholar or an expert on the end times to view heaven. We can see it through the eyes of Revelation’s writer, John, while our Holy Spirit guide unveils depths of revelation we never dreamed possible. I’d like to just touch on a few of the indescribable things John described and get to the point of my blog.
Picture with me, a door opened in heaven (Revelation 4–5). An invitation to, ‘Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this’ is given to John and to us, his readers.
At center stage is a throne with an emerald rainbow encircling it like a halo. The One ruling from that throne is none other than the Lord our God in all His commanding, fiery, glorious splendor (vs3). A person could pitch a tent at that revelation campsite and stick around for a good long time!
Flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder send shock waves throughout the throne room (vs.5). If one “average bolt of lightning, striking from cloud to ground, contains roughly one billion (1,000,000,000) joules of energy” [i], can you imagine the frightful sights and sounds accompanying all of heaven’s immense storehouse of electrical discharges and claps of thunder? These components of God’s power—restrained power—are held in check like a bucking bull snorting, kicking against its steel chute until the gate opens at God’s command and it bursts free in its full fury.
Before the throne stretches a vast sea of glass like crystal mingled with fire, and seven torches (the sevenfold Holy Spirit) fiercely blazing (4: 5–6, 15:2). Twenty-four elders clothed in white with crowns of gold (glory) upon their heads are seated around the throne. Also present are four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. Their cries of, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come’ create waves of perpetual worship among all present. Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created.
Then the focus shifts. John notices a scroll in God’s hand (Revelation 5:1). That scroll represents “the title deed of the earth and the battle plan necessary to cleanse it to prepare it for Jesus’ rule . . .”[ii] It is sealed with seven seals.
When no one in heaven or earth or under the earth is found worthy to break its seals, John weeps. All seems lost until one of the elders announces that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed. Thus, He is entitled to open the book and loose the seven seals.
There, standing in their midst is a Lamb as though it had been slain. When He takes the scroll from God’s hand (thus taking responsibility to cleanse and rule earth), the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders prostrate themselves before Him. Now, this is the part where our prayers come into view, so don’t miss it. Verse 8 says that each is holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.
Did you hear that? Our seemingly-insignificant prayers, our little voices—yours and mine—are right there in the thick of things. Every “Thy kingdom come” we ever prayed, every “Thy will be done” we asked for (but figured nothing came of it) were gathered into those heavenly bowls. Even our tears are stored in His bottle; they’re recorded in His book (Psalm 56:8).
Because God’s ways are higher than our ways, the objective of our prayers are twofold. When I prayed, “Lord, bring deliverance to so and so”, God broadened the scope to deliver all so and so’s. While my sites were set on redeeming the few, His were set on redeeming the masses . . . from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (vs.9). Without realizing it, we’ve been playing a part in the biggest takeover of all time. We have partnered with Jesus in His end-time battle plan to eradicate His enemies and usher in the great end-time revival.
If that isn’t cool enough, our heartfelt prayers and praises have joined in a worship service among those gathered—the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands (vs9). Gathering momentum, worship then spreads to every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that’s in the sea (vs.13). It’s the worship service to beat all worship services, and we’re in attendance.
To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)! Amen (so be it)! says the four living creatures. And the elders bow down and worship Him Who lives forever and ever (vs.14).
So next time you wonder if your prayers are making a difference at all in this world, take a virtual trip through Revelation 4 and 5. Get fired up again and get back to our simple, Spirit-led throne room praying.