Text: Revelation 8:1-4
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Revelation 5:8 NKJV
One major role of the priest is to offer up sacrifices to God on behalf of the people and himself. Remember that God has made us holy priesthood unto Christ with the privilege of offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ Jesus.
One of the sacrifices we are called to offer to God is our prayer.
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psa 141:2).
“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.”
The prayer ascended before God like the smoke of an incense or the smoke of a sacrifice.
John, in his vision of heaven, saw that the elders around the throne “were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people”.
Why is prayer a sacrifice? It is based on the principle of sacrifice which is that, every sacrifice cost the one making the offering both time and resources and was a very important religious activity in the Biblical world.
Prayer requires giving our time. You know that the human nature will only give time to whatever will excite the flesh and will excuse spiritual things.
Prayer is also a sacrifice when we give our time to thinking about others and their needs. When we take the position of a mediator, interceding on behalf of others. When we give our time to God, asking for His intervention so as to help them to change. Thus, God acts on our behalf because we have sacrificed and He eventually transforms our self-centered attitude into God-centered.
Also, a very important principle of the prayer sacrifice is that, the offering is continuous and not time bound. The incense was always burning in the temple. “And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” (Exo 30:8). This is what our Lord Jesus meant in Luke 18:1, “… that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,”. Apostle Paul also reminded the Thessalonians about this principle (1 Thes 5:17).
Now, another principle of the prayer sacrifice is that, it is not only about the sacrifice that is offered but also about the character of the offerer. God esteems the heart far above the gifts. What the offerer gives is important to God but not more important than the life of the giver. Yes, an animal sacrifice at the Temple took a lot of time, effort and money, yet, the LORD hates it when it is not brought with the right heart attitude. God detests such sacrifices. However, a simple prayer from a pure heart and an upright man pleases Him more than thousands of sacrifices.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
Friends, always remember that you are called into holy priesthood to burn incense continually to the Lord on the altar, which is your prayer.
1. Father, please, ignite the fire of my prayer altar and let it never be put off in Jesus name.
2. Father, please, purge me of every wickedness and let my prayer always be a delight to you in Jesus name.
1. If my prayer must be a sacrifice, it must cost me something, including my time and sleep.
2. I don’t just offer the sacrifice of prayer but I daily search my heart to ensure that there is no wickedness in it.