We all want to fly. Flying is fun. It gets us where we want to go– fast. But any good pilot will tell you that before taking off, there’s a checklist of maintenance items for the aircraft. There’s also a course to chart. Taking off without preparation can turn fun into fatality– or at best, failure.
But in life’s pursuits, thank God, you don’t have to fly by the seat of your pants! Prayer is your preparation. Having a two-way conversation with God will outfit you for flight. Your communion with Him all along the way will greatly ease your journey and smooth your landing.
There are many ways and forms of prayer, but the often the most neglected form is what I call processing the plan of God. Have you ever been tempted to think your prayers were not heard? Reading a couple of chapters in Revelation can change your whole perspective. In Revelation 5, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders around the throne of God have bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints. Then Revelation 8, an angel takes this incense and offers it to God. Finally, the angel throws the incense in a censer back down to the earth where it makes a huge impact. Look at what happens as our prayers travel to Heaven and back:
1. Prayers rise to Heaven.
So Revelation calls our prayers incense. Incense is a combination of essential oils and plant material that sweetly burn over a hot coal. It can be valuable stuff. But that smoke rises before God, reminding Him of our trust in Him and our reliance on His Word. In Acts 10, an angel tells Cornelius that his prayers and alms have come up to God as a memorial. Obviously, the smell lasts long after the prayer. But if we have no prayer, there is no smoke. There is nothing to fill our bowl, and it sits empty. Yes, God loves us, but we are left without his direct involvement in our plans since we have failed to invite Him. Don’t know what to pray? Pray in other tongues according to Romans
2. Angels present our prayers to God.
When we pray, we enlist all of Heaven to act on our behalf. Notice the angelic involvement of both presenting our prayers to God and returning them to the earth with action. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering sprits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. That’s us! Our prayers get angels involved in helping us do God’s plan. Psalm 103:20 says angels heed the voice of His Word. When we pray God’s Word, angels listen and do.
3. Prayers return to earth with results.
Revelation 8:5 says, Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. Notice how, once the prayers are offered to God, He adds His fire. Now, our incense with it’s tiny coal is multiplied exponentially in its effect. So in God’s timing, when our bowl of prayer is full, all that fire power returns to earth to accomplish something huge, beyond what we could have imagined.
When we understand how to process God’s plan, we’ll never again have to crash and burn on our own. God’s plan is powerful, efficient, and higher than ours, and it comes with grace and help! Pray to know His plan. Pray to fill your bowl. Pray to have mighty impact.
Want to know more about prayer? Hear Pastor’s teaching on the Legacy of Prayer, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. (This article was based on Part 3.) Want to learn by example how to pray effectively? Wednesday, June 27, at 7:30pm is the last of our Power Hour series. Come pray with us! After that, you can still hook in on Sunday morning prayer at 9am in the Jr. High room or Thursday night prayer at 7:30 pm in the Altitude Room.