When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. – Revelation 8:1
In 1964 The Sound of Silence was released by Simon and Garfunkel. It was a song composed by Paul Simon the year before. Some speculate it was written in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It is a solemn penetrating song about the failure of people to communicate. It famously begins, “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again,” and then concludes with the words: “And in the naked light I saw / Ten thousand people, maybe more / People talking without speaking / People hearing without listening / People writing songs that voices never share / And no one dared / Disturb the sound of silence
Silence can be something dark and even sinful when those who should speak, remain silent. “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3). But silence can be a time of solemn revelation. We can receive great insight in times of silence. There is a silence during times when we can’t find words to express what we experience. In awe of God’s Creation, we silently behold a newborn or gaze at stars in the night. But we may also cover our mouth looking on in silent horror as planes hit towers or as an accident is in motion. Whether in times connected with blessing or cursing, silence has a time of profundity. There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b).
Silence can mark a climax. Silence can punctuate. There is such a thing as a “pregnant pause.” There is such a silence in God’s prophetic future. And it is that time of holy silence and why it happens that this study is about. Such silence is found in the final book of the Bible. In Revelation 8:1 it states, “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
The context. To provide some context for this verse know that Revelation 7 was a parenthesis in the outpouring of the wrath of God on a Christ rejecting world. By chapter 7 we are firmly planted in the prophetic Seven Year Tribulation section of this book described in Revelation 6-19). The purpose of such a Tribulation is threefold: to shake up a Christ-rejecting world with a final merciful effort of tough love to bring them to Jesus for salvation. It is a time to wake up the nation of Israel to salvation in her Messiah Jesus and to her elected calling. And finally, the Tribulation is a time to make up this world like a maid makes up a hotel room readying it for the next guest, in this case the Guest is Jesus at His Second Coming.
In Revelation 7 we saw the effective work towards two of these three purposes of God:
- 144,000 messianic believers are sealed with the seal of God indicating their salvation in Christ and special protection by God so that they can accomplish their evangelistic work during the Tribulation.
- The fruit of the 144,000 is a great revival in which “a great multitude” beyond number are saved. This group will be martyred during the Tribulation. This group is separate and distinct from the Church. These converts are Tribulation saints.
The Tribulation is a time of God’s outpoured righteous wrath on this Christ-rejecting world. To this point in the book we have seen six of the seven seals of God:
- Seal #1 – Antichrist comes to power (white horse)
- Seal #2 – War and global conflict (red horse)
- Seal #3 – Famine (black horse)
- Seal #4 – Death of one quarter of the earth’s population (pale horse)
- Seal #5 – Persecution of Tribulation saints
- Seal #6 – Earthquake and cosmic cataclysm
Now that the parenthetical pause of chapter seven is complete, we resume the wrathful judgment of God on this Christ-rejecting world. Chapter eight of Revelation picks up with the seventh seal. The seven seals are from the title deed of the earth which the Lamb of God Jesus has redeemed by His blood and is now opening (Revelation 5 and 6:1). The seventh seal is the most devastating of all the seals. From this seal comes seven trumpets of judgments and 7 bowls of God’s wrath. But as awesome as these judgments are, that is not why there is silence in heaven. My prayer is that when we realize the reason for God’s holy silence, it will have a profound impact on our lives.
The persecuted. We need to remember whom this letter was being delivered to. The people receiving this revelation were experiencing severe persecution. Jesus warned that in this world Christians could expect to experience trials, hardship and persecution. He said:
- John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The apostle Paul echoed the warning of His Master when he said:
- 2 Timothy 3:12 – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
The apostle John opens this letter by referring to himself as one who has been and is being persecuted:
- Revelation 1:9-10 – “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,”
At the time of John receiving the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperor Domitian had tried to execute him (the last living apostle at this time). It is believed Domitian first attempted this execution by boiling John in a cauldron of hot oil. Tradition testifies that miraculously John was preserved by God. Frustrated with not being able to execute John, Domitian banished him to the desolate isle of Patmos.
We too face trials, hardships and even persecution like these first century believers (though in the West our plight is rarely as extreme). How did these believers get through their hard times? How did John get through his difficulties? What can we learn about getting through hard times from this book of the revelation of Jesus Christ?
Being “in the Spirit” by prayer. The key to answering these questions begins in the first chapter of revelation and continues throughout. John writes in Revelation 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. . ..” How did John come to be “in the Spirit” and what does this mean?
The phrase, “I was in” is translated from one word in the original language, egenomen from the root word genomai. Genomai means to come to be, to become and “signifies a change of condition, state or place, (e.g., Mark 4:35). In Acts 27:33, the verb is used with the Greek word mello, “to be about to,” to signify the coming on of day.”  How did John come to be “in the Spirit”? I believe the answer is John came to be in the Spirit by prayer. Prayer is God’s means to overcome and persevere in and through times of trial, hardship and persecution. Revelation is a book that emphasizes the importance of prayer
The importance of prayer. Revelation is a book that emphasizes the importance of prayer. You may not realize this by the occurrence of words related to prayer. The words “pray,” ““prayed”,” “prayer,” “praying,” and “prays,” are not found in the book of Revelation. The only word clues to the books emphasis on prayer are the words “Amen” (1:1:6,7,18; 3:14; 5:14; 7:12 (2); 19:4; 22:20; 22:21) and “Prayers” (5:8; 8:3,4) found in this book. That may cause you to respond, “Pastor Claude, that is scanty evidence to claim that the book of Revelation emphasizes the importance of prayer!” I believe that what Revelation lacks in the frequency of words used to mention prayer it more than compensates by the intensity and prominence given to prayer by God in this book. Let me show you.
God cares about our prayers. Let’s look at our primary verse once again. “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” (Revelation 8:1). Up to this point in the book of Revelation there have been the sounds of the voice of Jesus, the voice of angels, heavenly singing, the sounds that accompany the catastrophe of the first six seals, and the sounds of worship in heaven. Now, at the beginning of chapter 8, for the first time in the book of Revelation, there is SILENCE, thirty minutes of silence; solemn, holy silence.
Just think of it, complete silence for thirty minutes. Few people have experienced such silence. Down below, “under the sun” (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:3 ff.), on earth not in heaven, silence is inevitably broken. Down here silence is broken by cell phone notifications for calls, texts or tweets. Down here silence is broken by various interruptions from family, friends, work related persons and a host of other people. Down here the rush of traffic, rumble of a train, or roar of an overhead plane interrupts us. Down here the creak of a chair, the crinkle of a piece of paper, or the hum of computer breaks the silence. Down here the lap of waves coming to shore, the wind rustling leaves or the purr of a pet interrupts the silence. Down here, even in solitary confinement, a heartbeat and a breath can be heard. But there are no cell phones in heaven. This was holy silence in heaven. This was God-imposed silence. There is no silence like the silence before the throne of God.
Sometimes silence can be golden. But sometimes silence is deafening. The silence in heaven here is the deafening sort of silence. This is a solemn moment. This is a profound time. God is making a point with His silence. This was a holy moment when all eyes were focused on Almighty God and all ears perked for the slightest sound from Him or His angelic hosts holding trumpets known to sound forth a directive.
Why? Why is there such holy silence in heaven? It may be that such silence is to mark a solemn moment in history. God is about to unleash the full measure of His wrath on this Christ-rejecting world. But I believe there is a deeper cause of this silence. The reason for the silence is found in the next few verses.
God’s passion for our prayers. God cares about our prayers. I believe it is the prayers of the saints, our prayers that precipitates this profound silence. The prayers of the saints are being presented before God and GOD IS GIVING HIS UNDIVIDED ATTENTION TO THE CONTENT OF THOSE PRAYERS! It’s as though God is saying, “Hush! I want to give My full attention to the prayers of My children.” God has a passion for our prayers.
That God gives His undivided attention to these prayers not only tells us that He has a passion for prayer, but that GOD HAS A PASSION FOR PRAY-ERS; THE PEOPLE OFFERING THOSE PRAYERS.
Like two lovers who shut out all the distractions around them and count only the words of each other as worth hearing, God is listening to the prayers of His holy ones. Think of it! God cares about our prayers. God seriously listens to our prayers. God has a passion for those who pray. How ironic it is that the Creator of the universe is willing to listen intently to us when we pray but that most people would rather seek help elsewhere. God has provided an incredible gift of prayer to us. Prayer is His hotline for us to speak with Him. When something goes wrong down here, the first thing we should do is dial His number in prayer. Prayer is something any Christian can do, from the youngest to the eldest, prayer is possible and available. If you can think you can pray. Prayer is the easiest spiritual tool to use. But, unfortunately, it is the most neglected.
Why is prayer so neglected? I think that is due in part to Satan’s fear of prayer. Martin Luther used to say, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees.” Satan will send distractions of all shapes and sizes to prevent us from or to interrupt our prayers. A remembrance of something that needs to be done, or a call we just can’t turn away. The devil seeks to disrupt any priority we give to prayer. But our neglect of prayer is not entirely the fault of the enemy.
Many people seek to deal with their hardships or trials by spending enormous amounts of money on “professional listeners” such as psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors, even pastors. They go to such people before they consider going to the One, “the Wonderful Counselor” who has such a passion to listen to them. How many times do people choose to go first to people rather than first go in prayer to the One who could really help them? When we don’t’ seek God first in prayer, we rob ourselves of our most powerful solution and likely miss an opportunity to spare an unnecessary expense of some kind.
Prayers Precede the Providential and/or Prophetic Work of God. As this solemn holy silence occurs John continues to describe the heavenly scene. “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” (Revelation 8:2). The seven angelic servants of the LORD who stand before God are given seven trumpets. “Trumpets” (Greek salpigx) were made of various materials such as bone, shell, bronze, iron, or copper. Such a trumpet had a limited range of sound and therefore was used for “military signals, signals to call a civic or religious assembly, or a signal used to call sheep.” 
In the New Testament the trumpet (salpigx) was primarily used to make signals. Trumpet signals were made by blowing clearly (cf. 1 Cor. 14:8). The trumpet is described as deafening at times (Hebrews 12:19). A trumpet will sound to mark the Rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). The elect will be summoned at the Second Coming of Christ (Matthew 24:31). And as we see in Revelation, trumpets are used to mark the second round of God’s judgments on the earth (Revelation 8:2,6,13; 9:14). There is in these last occurrences of the use of the trumpet, a military aspect to the blowing of the trumpets.
In Revelation the voice of Jesus is described as “a loud voice, as of a trumpet [i.e. salpigx]” (Revelation 1:10; 4:1). When Jesus speaks in Revelation, He speaks loud and clear so that those He is speaking to can hear Him.
Prayer precedes the providential work of God. While the seven angels holding each a trumpet which marks announcements that will be made in a deafening alerting sound, in stark contrast is a deafening silence at the beginning of Revelation 8. Notice the context here. It is very important. The context tells us prayer precedes God’s providential work.
“Providence” is the protective or provisional care of God in life. Providence is God’s work in human life. What does prayer have to do with God’s providence? A saint of old once wisely commented:
“Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world” 
We are saved by God’s grace because nothing in us even desires God. When a sinner is convicted of their sin and need of a Savior by the Holy Spirit (e.g. John 16:8-11), it is called the “prevenient grace,” of God or the grace that goes before. This is a part of God’s providential action in human life. When we pray for God’s forgiveness for our sins we are, in faith, declaring our dependence upon Him. And that forgiveness comes as we trust in Jesus and His redemptive work as the basis and means by which God justly forgives us. All of this is offered as a gift of God’s grace to the one who prays a “Sinners Prayer.”
When we prayerfully seek God’s kingdom first and trust for Him to provide for our needs this too is the providential provision of God (Matthew 6:33-34). The idea that all of our needs are met in Christ Jesus falls under the umbrella of God’s providence (e.g. Philippians 4:13-19; Eph. 1:3ff.).
Prayer precedes God’s prophetic work. Prayer precedes any work of God. And we see that God’s providential prophetic plans in Revelation are preceded by the prayers of His saints on earth. Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). The context of Revelation shows that the prayers of the saints precede the coming of God’s Kingdom. Prayer moves the hand of God.
It is very important for us to pray. E.M. Bounds once said:
“Defeat awaits a non-praying church. Success is sure to follow a church given to much prayer. The supernatural element in the church, without which it must fail, comes only through prayer . . .. As often as God manifested His power in Scriptural times in working wonders through prayer, He has not left Himself without witness in modern times. Prayer brings the Holy Spirit upon men today in answer to importunate, continued prayer just as it did before Pentecost. The wonders of prayer have not ceased.” 
God has a passion for our prayers and for those who pray. And God has sovereignly linked our prayers to His providential workings. God has so much blessing He desires to pour out upon us. But He makes prayer the prerequisite for our personal blessing. Why is that? God’s wants to have a conversation with us. God wants us to experience a personal relationship with Him to ready us for eternity with Him. Truly we are “complete in Him” in Christ and that completion is facilitated to a great extent, through prayer. God doesn’t need our prayers, we do. Prayer is a providential blessing for us from our Heavenly Father.
Perfumed prayers. Sometimes we may think that our prayers are inadequate or we can’t find the words to pray. If you have that feeling you need to notice an awesome insight into our prayers from these verses.
Revelation 8:3-4 – “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.”
Notice that the prayers of the saints are not the only thing offered before God. A censor with “much incense” was offered with the prayers of the saints. Incense is a type of perfume (Exodus 37:29) offered by the priest in the worship in the Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 30:1; Leviticus 4:7). Incense in scripture is representative of intercessory prayer. Evidence of this is seen in the Psalms: “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2). Earlier in Revelation “incense” is used as relating directly to the prayers of the saints:
- Revelation 5:8 – “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.” (Emphasis added.)
But here, in 8:3-4, the incense appears to be separate and distinct from the prayers of the saints as it is offered “with” the prayers of the saints. Is that significant?
The interceding prayers of Jesus. What is the source of this distinctive incenses offered “with” the prayer of the saints? It is likely the intercessory prayers of our Savior Jesus made on our behalf. When Jesus ascended to heaven, one of His prime activities for Him in the next stage of God’s prophetic plan was interceding on our behalf. In Hebrews the intercession of Jesus is referred to with the following words:
- Hebrews 7:25 – “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Why does Jesus intercede for us; why is His intercession necessary? I suggest that because our prayers are not always uttered in the right attitude our prayers need sweetening. Sometimes we pray selfishly or angrily or lustfully. Whatever the warped nature our prayers take, Jesus is able to fix them and perfume them in such a way as to make them sweet smelling before God. Jesus perfumes our prayers so that when they reach the Father, they are sweet smelling and according to His will.
This is why Jesus instructed us, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). And He said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). And He said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16). And He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23). We pray “in My name” or the name of Jesus when we pray according to the will and purposes of Jesus. Praying in Jesus’ name is not a magical ticket to get what we want. Praying in Jesus name is praying what Jesus would pray for in our given situation. Praying in the name of Jesus is praying according to the nature of Jesus. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for others as Jesus would. Praying for Jesus is praying for our needs. But how do we know what Jesus would pray for?
Another Helper; the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers. The Holy Spirit is “another” Helper, or another just like Jesus. The Holy Spirit is like Jesus, but not the identical to Jesus. The Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God but separate and distinct from each other. God is One God in Three Persons. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us pray in Jesus’ name, or according to how Jesus would pray. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. . .. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; . . . .” (John 14:26 and 16:13).
Prayer is a blessed activity that any saint, regardless of age or level of spiritual maturity can enter into. But while prayer is something all saints can do, prayer is something almost all saints neglect to do. Why is that? Part of it is laziness. Part of it is spiritual immaturity. Part of it is spiritual ignorance. Part of it is too much busy-ness. Leonard Ravenhill in his book Revival Praying, stated, “Prayer is a two-way operation – man talking to God and God talking to man. . . . To many, prayer is dry because they do all the talking.” He goes on to say, “Prayer is, I think, the language of heaven.”  The Bible is the word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The words of scripture are the written language of the Spirit. But the language of heaven is prayer! And prayer is a language we need to learn from the Holy Spirit.
In the epistle to the Romans the apostle Paul states the following:
- Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Weak as we are in prayer, the Holy Spirit is able to help us learn the “language of heaven.”
How do we receive help to pray from the Holy Spirit? We pray for it. We pray for Him. Jesus said “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9-13). Do you want or need the Holy Spirit’s help to pray? Then just ask, in prayer.
I love my kids. I love my grandkids. They are the world to me. I love them with all my heart. When they come to me for something my heart usually melts and I provide it for them as much as I can. This is especially true with my precious grands. But I have to admit, I can’t always give or provide my children or grandchildren what they need. And I am guilty of being a “Papa” who is accused by his parent-children, of giving too much candy to my grandchildren. But if my heart is melted for my children and grandchildren, and I am a fallen sinner only saved by grace, (“evil,” according to Jesus) how much more will our Holy Heavenly Father’s heart melt toward us? And He has no grandchildren, only children. And, unlike this earthly “evil” Papa, our Heavenly Father knows what is blessed, what is good, what is right, what is best for us. He won’t load us up with candy so we run in circles. He will give us just the right amount. God our Father is Perfect and so are His answers to prayer.
Jude was inspired by the Spirit to write, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Praying in the Spirit empowers our prayers because it aims the content of those prayers at the mark, it focuses them on the will of God so that God can act according to His will. We might say, prayer is the pathway which brings us to the crest of a hill so we can see and experience a little bit of heaven. With Jesus and the Holy Spirit helping us in our prayers, we can’t fail!
This truth is clearly spoken by the prayer warrior E.M. Bounds who we once again quote as saying:
“Prayer takes hold of God, and induces Him to do large things for us, whether personal or relative, temporal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly. . . . The great gap between Bible promises to prayer and the income from praying is almost unspeakably great, so much so that it is a prolific source of infidelity. It breeds unbelief in prayer as a great moral force and begets doubt really as to the efficacy of prayer. Christianity needs today, above all things else, men and women who can in prayer put God to the test and who can prove His promises. When this happy day for the world begins, it will be earth’s brightest day, and will be heaven’s dawning day on earth. These are the sort of men and women needed in this modern day in the Church. It is not educated men who are needed for the times. It is not more money that is required. It is not more machinery, more organization, more ecclesiastical laws, but it is men and women who know how to pray, who can in prayer lay hold upon God and bring Him down to earth and move Him to take hold of earth’s affairs mightily and put life and power into the Church and into all of its machinery.” 
If this is not enough to encourage you to pray then look at verse five of Revelation 8.
Fire from the His altar. God answers prayer. And when our prayers in the Spirit are combined with the intercessions of Jesus, they are filled with fire from heaven. Verse five states:
Revelation 8:5 – “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
John indicates that when “the angel took the censor,” of our Spirit empowered and directed prayers and Jesus’ intercessions, then they were “filled with fire from the altar.” Have you ever experienced this “fire” from heaven in your prayers? I’m speaking of an expression not a literal fire, but there are times in prayer where the Holy Presence of God is manifested and you experience what can only be described as a little piece of heaven in the presence of Holy God.
Prayers should have a fire to them, a passion, an investment of the heart and our emotions. The great Prayer warrior pastor E.M. Bounds made this point in one of his classic writings when he said:
“Prayers must be red hot. It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and availeth. Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere. Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication. It takes fire to make prayers go. Warmth of soul creates an atmosphere favorable to prayer because it is favorable to fervency. By flame, prayer ascends to heaven. Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat, noise. Heat is intensity – something that glows and burns. Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice. . . . The Holy Spirit comes as a fire, to dwell in us; . . . Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. ‘Men ought always to pray,’ He declares, ‘and not to faint.’ That means, that we are to possess sufficient fervency to carry us through the severe and long periods of pleading prayer. Fire makes one alert and vigilant and brings him off more than a conqueror. . . . Fervency has its seat in the heart, not in the brain, nor in the intellectual faculties of the mind . . . It is not in our power, perhaps, to create fervency of spirit at will, but we can pray God to implant it.” 
But we need to strike a balance in our understanding here. Understand the “fire” of our prayers is wrought by God in heaven, it is not mere emotional expressions on our part. There needs to be a balance in our prayers. This balance is mentioned by Wesley L. Duewel in his book Mighty Prevailing Prayer where he states:
“Always remember that you never merit prayer’s answers. You do not earn God’s response by anything you do. You do not get answers because of physical exertion, praying in a loud voice, or working up some kind of emotional experience. In fact, the most intense prayer of all may at times be the most silent. On the other hand, when your heart cries out to God, you may well, like Jesus, have moments of ‘Loud cries and tears’ (Heb. 5:7).”
“We need great answers to prayer, changed lives and situations – answers that bear upon them the stamp of the divine. We need mighty demonstrations of the reality and concern of God and of His activity and power, which will force the world to recognize that God is truly God, that God is sovereign, and that God is involved in His world today. We need mighty answers to prayer that will bring new life to the church and new strength, faith, and courage to faint believers that will silence, dumbfound, and convict evil men; and that will thwart, defeat, and drive back he assaults of Satan.”
These fiery prayers are then thrown to earth. It states, “and threw it to the earth.” God answers our prayers. When we pray, in His timing, He will throw the answers to the earth.
We pray with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus perfumes our prayers so they smell sweet to the Father. Once the Father gets them He gives His undivided attention to them and His decisive responses are cast to the earth to be fulfilled. Such holy answers to our prayers, will at some point in the future, be announced by the clear and loud trumpet blast from heaven. When God answers our prayers, He does so loud and clear.
Don’t miss this. God who has been moved by our prayers shakes the whole world with His answers! John is being encouraged to pray and keep on praying. Those who are experiencing trials and in particular persecutions, are encouraged to keep on praying. Push your prayers along even if you don’t feel like praying, even if you don’t see immediate results. Be encouraged saint! Keep on praying!
God really does answer prayer. There are many people who say, “I don’t pray because God doesn’t answer.” Or they say, “I prayed but nothing happened!” There are many people who cry out like the tribulation saints who said:
- Revelation 6:10 – “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
“How long, O Lord . . .?” It’s one thing to question the timing of God’s answer to our prayers it is quite another to stop praying. When we look at the Tribulation saints and their questioning about the timing of God’s prayers, we see they do not question whether or not they should pray, and they do not question whether or not God will answer their prayers. They only question when God will answer. God’s answers to our prayers may come on a different schedule than we like. We human pray-ers want our answers to prayer “NOW!” We are impatient. God always answers our prayers though His timing and answers may be different than what we’d hoped or asked for.
God always answers our prayers. His answers come in one of three responses:
First, God can say, “Yes.” When our prayers are according to God’s will and in His plan, God says “Yes” and acts on our prayers. We see this in John first epistle:
- 1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Second, God can say, “No.” When what we ask for in prayer is contrary to God’s will, God reserves the right to say “No.” Many times in my life I have later thanked God for His blessed “No.” God desires the best for His children and His priority is that we be conformed to the image of His Son. Therefore, He answers prayer in a way that fulfills His good plans for us and accomplishes His better good in us, His best for us (e.g. Romans 8:28-32; 2 Cor. 4:8-18; 12:7-10).
Third, God can say “Wait.” When we pray the answer, we seek from God may not always come as fast as we’d like. We may misinterpret God’s delay as His “No.” But that’s not necessarily the case. If we are praying according to God’s will, then we can be sure He will answer and give what we’ve requested. If His answer does not immediately come, it may be because He is arranging His best for us in answer to our prayers. His answer may indeed be “No.” But understand this, God is not procrastinating. God hasn’t lost interest. “Okay,” you say, “Why does He take so long to answer my prayers?” God says, “Wait” because He wants to assure that we know the answer is from Him. He did this with Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12-18). God promised them a son but made them wait until they were past child rearing years. He did this to assure they would know this son was from Him by providing the son in a miraculous way.
God wants to bless us with His best. Not only does God make us wait to assure we and everyone else knows the answer is from Him. God often requires we wait in order to provide us His best. This is illustrated in the story of Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist’s birth. In Luke 1 it describes Zacharias and Elizabeth as righteous before God:
- Luke 1:5-6 – “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
This was a holy couple that were right with the Lord. But they had a problem as we see in the following verses:
- Luke 1:7 – “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.”
They were right before God and had been together for many years. Barrenness however was viewed culturally as being a sign of God’s judgment on people. They must have prayed for many years to have a child, but the prayer went unanswered. Why had God not answered their prayer? Why had God said, “wait”? Look at what follows:
- Luke 1:8-13 – “So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”
Their barrenness and apparent lack of an answer from God to their prayers did not keep them from serving the Lord! They kept following the Lord and in God’s time, God answered. They did not become embittered toward God because He didn’t answer their prayers immediately. They were not childish but spiritually mature in that they pressed on trusting God to answer their prayers. They lived sacrificially and in full surrender to God’s answer to their prayers whether His answer was “Yes,” “No,” or “wait.”
Zaharias and Elizabeth were past normal child bearing years. They likely stopped praying for a child long ago. So, when the angel spoke to Zacharias about a child to be born to him and Elizabeth, he must have thought at this time, “What prayer for Elizabeth?” He had probably forgotten all about his prayers for a child. But God hadn’t forgotten!
Why had God said “wait”? Because God wanted the best for Zacharias and Elizabeth. He wanted to provide them a child that would have a major part in His prophetic plan. It was John the Baptist, their son, who introduced Messiah Jesus to the world. God wanted to honor their faithfulness with a special answer to their prayer. God wanted to bless them with the best.
- Luke 1:14-17 – “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.16 “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.17 “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
God had a special answer for their special prayer. Their baby would grow to be a particular blessing to them and to play an important role in the plans of God. Later Jesus would describe the baby who came to be called john the Baptist:
- Luke 7:24-28 24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?25 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.26 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.27 “This is he of whom it is written: 1 ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ 28 “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
How long Lord? Long enough to answer your prayers in a way you couldn’t even conceive of. That’s what Paul said to the Ephesians:
- Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
God always answers prayer. God has a passion for prayer. The only time we don’t get answers is when we don’t pray:
- James 4:2 – “. . . . Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
If you don’t pray you won’t get answers. When you do pray, you have God’s full attention. Because God has a passion for prayer. Prayer precedes God’s providential and prophetic work. Are you praying? Have you given up praying because you’ve given up waiting for God’s answer to prayer.
One final fictional story illustrates how we should pray and the necessity of prayer.
A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with
light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and
showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man
was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day
after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set
squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with
all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out,
feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to
enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been
pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.” Thus, he gave
the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, “Why kill
yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and
that will be good enough.”
That’s what the weary man planned to do but decided to make it a matter of
prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have
labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which
you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by
half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?
The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me
and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with
all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that
I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with
your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?
Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown,
your hands are calloused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive
and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now
surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your
calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in
My wisdom. That you have done.
“Now I, my friend, will move the rock.”
At times when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to
decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience
and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but
know that it is still God who moves the mountains.
When everything seems to go wrong……………..just P.U.S.H!
When the job gets you down…………………just P.U.S.H!
When people don’t react the way you think they should….just P.U.S.H!
When your money is “gone” and the bills are due………just P.U.S.H!
When people just don’t understand you………………just P.U.S.H!
The first five verses of Revelation 8 paint a wonderful picture about prayer. Don’t just pray, pray until something happens. Ask, seek, and knock in your prayers. Pray for the Spirit’s help. Pray in the name of Jesus. Pray for and until our Lord Jesus returns! But pray. Pray because God has a passion for your prayers. Pray because God has a passion for those who pray. Pray because a time of solemn silence in heaven will mark God’s undivided attention to our prayers. Pray with words and heart. Pray in silence. But pray. I pray you pray. You pray I pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.
W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
 Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Sigma-Omega.
 Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Sigma-Omega.
 E.M. Bounds, The Possibilities of Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1979 edition of 1923 issue of book. Page 41
 E.M. Bounds, Possibilities of Prayer (Grand Rapids: Mich.: Baker Book House) pages 136,137.)
 Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying, (Bethany House: Minneapolis, MN) 1962, 2005. Page 54 and 56.
 E.M. Bounds, The Possibilities of Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1979 edition of 1923 issue of book. Page 107-108
 E.M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1981. Page56, 58,59
 Wesley L. Duewell, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House) 1990. Pg. 19 and 20