The Prayers of the Saints
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. Rev. 8:3-4
Believer, note well the symbolism of these verses because they describe a wonderful reality. First of all, we see that the prayers of the saints ascend before God. This fact is mentioned in both verses. This shows us, if it shows us anything, that God hears and takes note of the prayers of his people. I know that it sometimes feels like our prayers go nowhere, but God has revealed this in his word for us to believe: they not only get above the roofs over our heads, they ascend all the way into heaven, before the very throne of God.
Second, pay attention to the fact that it doesn't say "the prayers of some of the saints," but that it says, "the prayers of all the saints"! Not one prayer and not one of God's children are left out of the heavenly notice. God doesn't just pay attention to your prayers when you feel spiritual, he pays attention to your prayers when you don't feel spiritual. He hears them when you think you know how and what to pray for, and he hears them when you neither know how or what to pray for. God hears prayer, and he hears the prayers of all the saints.
Third, God doesn't just listen to our prayers, he does something with them. He answers them and he incorporates them into this eternal purpose and plan. This is what the following verses show: "and the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake" (5). Whatever that symbolism means exactly, it at least means this: God responds to our prayers in real and earth-shattering ways.
Fourth, God doesn't just take our prayers as they are, but takes them with the incense. Where does the incense come from? From the altar. Surely we are reminded of the sacrifice of our Lord and the fact that his atoning death cleanses us, including our prayers. Our prayers may have much fault and even sin in them; but the incense from the altar makes our prayers by the grace of God acceptable in his sight.
So believer, be encouraged today to pray to the God who hears prayer.