Every believer should schedule an appointed time with God in prayer each day. A believer exercises his priestly function when praying. Our prayers should be intelligent, fervent, and expectant. There are five principles that we must remember concerning our time in prayer:
There is divine intimacy in prayer. Using the phrase Abba-Father can illustrate such a sense of intimacy as it translates, “Daddy.” We become more like our blessed Savior as we spend time in His presence. A life with Christ produces a life like Christ.
Confession is all important as well. Psalm 51 describes and provides us with a clear example of true repentance. This includes confession for others as well as for us. Daniel identified himself with the sins of the nation. Prayer denoted his dependence on God. Our Father appreciates this in these days of independence.
Intercession is speaking to God for oneself and for others. The importance of thanksgiving is described by the Lord Himself who says in His Word, “Whosoever offereth praise glorifieth Me.” Thanksgiving should be a part of our each and every prayer, for the small things, for the great things, and for all things.
Prayer in the Life of an Assembly
At the funeral service following the death of a believer, we should say, “He has arrived,” not “He is gone.” May every thought of him be of him in heaven, as he has now arrived to hear the Savior’s voice and see His welcoming smile. Then, we must greet again those he has left just for awhile. Do not say, “He is gone,” nor think of him as dead. But say instead, “In the Father’s house he has arrived.”
In regard to the Lord’s past, present, and future timetable, the “evening watch” was represented by the Apostolic Era. The “midnight watch” was represented by the Dark Ages. The “Awakening” was represented by the voice of protest in the European Reformation, and finally, the “Morning,” when that blessed morning comes, will be represented by the Lord’s return.
Among the many privileges that we enjoy as believers, perhaps the most precious is that of the principal, spiritual power and sweetness of prayer. How condescending is our great God to allow us to converse with Him. What a privilege we have in that we can carry everything to God in prayer.
Look now at Revelation 5:8. This verse shows us that by the “saints” we are not to understand any order of angelic beings, because the phrase “redeemed to God by Thy blood” cannot apply to angels. They cannot be the glorified ones, for in heaven they have no need of prayers. In fact there are no prayers in heaven except those of the great interceding High Priest. The saints are the believers on earth. Revelation 3:4 shows us that the angel who adds incense to the prayers of the saints is no created being.
Christ, and Christ alone, is competent to do this. He alone is the Mediator between God and man (see 1 Timothy 2:5). He also is our Intercessor. Romans 8:34 states that our Lord is the One “Who also maketh intercession for us.” There is one mediator and that is the Man, Christ Jesus. However, there are two intercessors: the first is Christ in heaven, and the second is the Holy Spirit upon the earth. This is illustrated in Israel’s conflict with Amelek, with Moses on the mountain, and with Joshua in the valley. To me it is thrilling to realize that the One who stands before the golden altar, waving the golden censor, blending the precious incense of His own divine merits with the prayers of the saints is none other than our Lord Jesus.
Read Revelation 8:3-4.
The vision of Revelation 5 is designed to present the Church as a “praying church.” The “bowls of incense” spoke of the prayers of the saints on earth. The lamps signify the praise of saints in heaven. Let us consider now the “golden bowls.” These precious vessels were used to hold the prayers of the saints. The lesson that I see here is that the prayer-life of sanctified believers is most precious in God’s sight. The word “incense” should really be “incenses.” These incenses are the prayers of the believers on earth. “Prayers on earth are incense in heaven.”
True prayers must rise from a golden censer. The censer of a “broken and contrite heart” is a censer of purest gold that is very precious in heaven. Psalm 51:17 says, “A broken and a contrite heart thou wilt not despise.” The censer of a “believing heart” is also precious. Resting upon the finished work of Christ and upon His infallible Word is precious in God’s sight. Prayers spoken in faith without doubting will move the hand of Him who moves the universe. The “Christ-loving heart” is a golden censer of great value as is the golden censer of a “worshipping and praising heart.” The precious cloud of worship and praise fills heaven with its odor.
The Holy Spirit has a very important place in the matter of intercession. The Spirit who makes intercession for us (see Romans 8:26) is the only One who can extract sweet and fragrant incense from our prayers. Our prayers are made fragrant when they are offered in the merits of Him who “loved us and gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God as a sweet smelling savor.” The Holy Spirit fills the golden censer. Jesus the obedient One, Jesus the crucified One, Jesus the risen One, Jesus the ascended, glorified, and interceding One, throws the divine fragrance of His offering around the prayers of His people; thus, enriched, they find favor with God.
What do we know of the preciousness of prayer? What do we know of the strengthening and soothing ministry of prayer? If we are to experience some of these spiritual thrills then we must guard the spiritual state of our heart. Prayer is a spiritual experience and can only be engaged in and enjoyed by spiritual people. I believe that prayer is the barometer of the soul.