World-Changing Prayer

William C. Brownson

Read: Revelation 8:1-5

He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. (v. 3 NIV)

When I’m struck by the thought of world-changing prayer, I come back again and again to these words in Revelation 8. Here’s how they begin: “When he [that is, the Lamb, the only one worthy] opened the seventh seal [the last one], there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (v. 1).

What? Silence? Haven’t we just heard the whole universe in deafening song to God and the Lamb? Suddenly all those innumerable voices are quieted. Now comes the action we’ve been expecting. The angel with the censer is to offer fragrant incense, along with the prayers of all believers, in worship to God. Pleasing incense rises before the Lord, along with power-filled prayers. Suddenly, dramatically, there is more action. The worship going on in heaven now affects life on earth. The effects of all this can be heard on earth (thunder and rumblings), seen on earth (lightning), felt on earth (an earthquake).

What can all this mean? How are we to understand it? To me, it says something striking and wonderful about our prayers. They have a continuing existence long after we have offered them! They are treasured up in heaven’s golden bowls. They are mingled on the altar with the fire of God, then hurled on the earth. Imagine it—our prayers, touched with heaven’s fire, then transform the earth. They are mighty world changers. —Bill Brownson

Prayer: Blessed God, you have given us in our praying the power to shape world history. Hallelujah!