“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 8:3-4, KJV)
The relevance of prayer cannot be overemphasized in the life of a believer. It forms a big aspect of the doctrine of Jesus. A large number of books you will come across on bookshelves of shops that sell Christian literature are centred on prayer. Diverse thoughts and understanding have been communicated on prayer. Prayer indeed forms a cardinal aspect of ministry in the priesthood.
A vital aspect of prayer many fail to consider is how their prayers are processed in heaven. They pray, having no knowledge of what happens to the words they have spoken. Many believers also take pride in how long they pray and are deluded into thinking that the number of hours they pray makes them more spiritual. They walk about with an arrogant disposition and lord themselves over people who pray for lesser periods of time than they do. This is a big error and must be flushed out of the body of Christ.
From the opening scripture, we realize that the angel already had the prayers of the saints with him. Before he could offer the prayers to ascend before God, however, much incense was given to him to be added to the prayers. The prayers that arrived in heaven could not ascend before God until much incense was added. Earlier in the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation, scripture recounts, “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 saints.” (Revelation 5:8). The prayers had ascended to the heavenlies already, but to ascend before God, much incense needed to be added. No matter how long or dramatic your prayer may be, it never gets to God till an addition is made.
The angel described in the opening scripture assigned with the work of adding much incense could only be Jesus the Christ of God; because he is our great high priest, the one who has the rights to minister at the golden altar in heaven. Let it be a resounding note in your mind that till Jesus touches your prayer and adds much incense to it, your prayer, however long does not avail. It does not get to God at all. This is outlined in John 14:6. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” To pride yourself in how long you pray is to wallow in self-gratification and self-sufficiency, forgetting that your prayers are nothing till Jesus offers it to the father with much incense.
Prayer is not a time of loftiness and pomposity with hands in pocket, giving instructions to God. It is a time of humility and weakness, bearing record that your desires and expectations demand a higher power to accomplish them and you cannot on your own accomplish anything. Prayer is a demonstration of your dependence on God. “Such is the reliance and confidence that we have through Christ toward and with reference to God. Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.” (2Corinthians 3:4-5, AMP).
The work of the ministry and prayer has the same factor, Jesus. Without him, all the works you wrought in God will be reckoned unprofitable. Jesus cannot add much incense to dead works. Your focus in ministry should be driven by none other than Jesus. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Do not trust in the arm of flesh, always show your dependence on God.
Paul, the apostle, did tremendously well in the work of the ministry. His labour was more abundant than that of his predecessors but he declared that whatever he did, he did by the grace of God. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10). As you pray and labour in the Lord, know that Jesus is in heaven before the golden altar, ever ready to supplement your works and prayer with much incense. As you lift up your voice to pray today, understand that Jesus our high priest is at the altar to add much incense to your prayer. Pray with this revelation. Shalom!