Question of the Day: What happens in heaven when the prayers of God’s saints are about to be answered here on earth?
One of the things that baffle the believer is the many times that God answers their prayers, and the many ways He seemingly chooses not to answer those prayers. Some of those prayers have been brought before the throne of God for years while we wait for Him to act on our behalf, and some of them are answered before we recognize that we have a need and ask for them. One of the prayers of many believers for centuries is that God will clean up the evil in this world, and allow us to “run the show” under the direction of His Son. We know how things need to be done because we have read God’s Handbook, the Holy Scriptures, and so we wait for the signal from Him that righteousness is about to reign here on earth as it is in heaven.
In a few places in Scripture there are a few clues as to what happens when our requests have come up to the throne of God and God has chosen to answer those prayers. But what takes place when we have sent up a request to God and then God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to answer? Part of the answer is here in Revelation 8 where the judgments of God are being poured out on the earth as He unveils His Final Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the time comes for Him to act, here’s what happened in heaven: “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh clasp, there was silence in heaven for half an hour; and I saw the seven angels that stand continually before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel came and stood at heaven’s altar, and he had a golden censer. He was given a large quantity of incense, which he was to offer along with the prayers of the saints, on heaven’s golden altar, which is before God’s throne. The smoke from the incense, which again was offered with the prayers of God’s holy children, came up before God out of the hand of the angel. And the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from off heaven’s altar, and threw it down to earth. Instantly on earth there were voices heard, claps of thunder, strikes of lightning, and an earthquake. Then the seven angels prepared to sound off.”
Here’s what we find out: God had decided to act and to bring judgment on earth, and at the same time He was answering the prayers of the saints. These prayers had been pending “under the altar” for many centuries, and somehow and for some reason God has chosen this specific time to answer what could actually be the prayers of many saints down through many centuries. When the time had come for action, an angel went to the golden altar that is before the throne, and he was given much incense that he was to offer along with the prayers of the saints, and when he did that, they rose up before God. This tells us that when God determines that it is the proper time to answer our prayers, an angel went up to the altar, scooped up some incense, and offered it with our prayers to God.
When we are told to pray, we are told to bring our requests up to the “Father”, the One who tenderly cares for His children, and He, with the wisdom and ability that He has, answers those prayers in the time that He determines and in the way He know is best. What is intriguing here is action of the angel in the answer. Hebrews 1:14 informs us that the angels are ministering spirits who are sent out to serve those who are to inherit eternal salvation—that is, you and I as believers. Though we cannot see these spirit beings, they are here for our aid, and when we get to heaven and have the blinders taken off our eyes, we will be able see throughout life all the things that they did to come to our aid. Their action on our behalf is well chronicled in the Scriptures, and today’s text tells us just a little of how that action is taken and when. Are we really that helpless that we need the angelic host to aid us—even in answering our prayers? Evidently so!
Prayer: O God, we thank You for Your plan to help us through this life. Many times we need specific instructions from You, and Your messenger is sent; we need to be strengthened, and an angel is dispatched; we are facing formidable foes that are determined to wipe us out, and angels are dispatched to defend us; and when we leave this life, it is angels that escort us forever into Your presence. Thank You! We need a lot of help! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.