“ And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8
So much of the Book of The Revelation is written with descriptive and often figurative imagery. Yet that imagery is not to be dismissed or ignored due to its complexity or abstraction. Some of it even in its figurative nature gives us a clearer glimpse at God and His covenant with His people than straight doctrine. Such is the above verse. Do not miss the vivid image of how the prayers of the saints are described. Golden vials full of odors, or incense. Do you ever stop to think about your prayers? We know from other passages in Scripture that God hears them all and that he delights in them. Here we are told that they even take on a form of sweet smelling incense.
Protestants generally do not use incense in worship as we are not told to and it has potential to become a ritualistic idol. However, consider incense in the context of the first century. No deodorant, limited soap, all people dependent on a surrounding of farm life and animals of some sort. Incense of any sort could be the best smell one could come into contact with. That description is what the prayers of the saints are like. Personally, I am not one for incense, so if you are like me, think of the smell of your favorite food coking or your favorite desert baking. Your prayers rise to God with that pleasing aroma out of golden bowls.
So many of us want to serve and please the Lord but are often discouraged at either a lack of opportunity, lack of ability, or sheer intimidation of the undertaking. Never neglect prayer as a ministry or as a means to serve and please God. The world and indeed our own nature is prone to scoff at prayer as a waste. Not your Lord! Prayer is more powerful, more effective, and more pleasing to God than perhaps all the physical labor you could do on a two week mission trip and more. I can say that because of how much commendation the Scriptures give prayer.
often belittles itself because of few physical ministries. I call us to devote
ourselves even more strongly to prayer as a ministry. That ministry has the
potential to be one of the best and most pleasing to God. God saves souls, God
causes conviction of sin, God brings people to church, God opens doors for
physical service. Lets pray to Him! As we are not in the business of pleasing
people, let us please God and daily send up the best aroma in faith with the
most powerful ministry we can have. The prayers of the saints! Grace Community Church