Summary: Sometimes we think our prayers make no difference, but this is just the deception of the enemy of our souls. God hears and answers our prayers. In fact, our prayers will eventually change the world
The sounding of the first four trumpets can be understood as the destruction of much of the world through a collision with meteors. It is inevitable and will happen at some point in the future. But I’d like to focus on something else this morning. It seems that what precipitates the end of human history is prayer.
Our focus this morning is on a few verses toward the beginning of the chapter:
4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
The incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before the Lord.
What happens when we pray?
Sometimes we may feel like our prayers go nowhere, or that God either isn’t listening or He doesn’t care. Sometimes it seems like we pray for one thing and we get the opposite.
I think this passage in Revelation is a reminder of two things:
1. Our prayers come before the throne of God.
2. Our prayers for justice sometimes seem to have no impact. We are discouraged when we see the wicked prosper-but God is just. In His time He will make all things right.
3. Our prayers make a difference; in God’s time-they can change the world.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
This means any believer (we’re all saints), anywhere, for any reason, can pray and seek our LORD and He will hear our prayer. Notice James’ language, anyone, anyone, . . . confess your sins to each other, pray for each other. He isn’t saying you should pray to a priest or to one of the great holy ones, or pillars of the Church. In God’s eyes, the least is the greatest, and He is gracious to the humble.
Prayer for rain last Saturday-
Last week I was having lunch with my parents. They were complaining that there is a drought here and it hasn’t rained for months. Marisha looked at me and said “we should pray for rain”. I said “Ok”, lifted my hands and prayed “Lord, please give us some rain”. Marisha agreed with me “Amen!” Within five minutes large drops of water began to fall, and the next few hours Las Cruces enjoyed a nice downfall.
Our prayers come before the throne of God, and it doesn’t matter who is praying-the lowliest saint has an audience with the Most High, and He hears our prayers.
Yet there remains this nagging question which has haunted humanity for thousands of years: “Why do the wicked prosper?” I believe part of the reason Jesus gave John the vision of Revelation 8, and much of the book of Revelation, is to answer this question. The question isn’t new.
Job asked this question 4,000 years ago.
Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? 8 They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes.9 Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them.10 Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. 11 They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. 12 They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. 13 They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ Job 21:7-15
Asaph, a great musician and philosopher, wrestled with this question (please turn in your Bibles)
Psalm 73:2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!