Written by Starla Webster
Last weekend during our time of worship, I asked God to hear my prayer and to hear the prayers of many others that have been praying with me. I felt the presence of God begin to rush through me with a word of encouragement. He gave me a picture, and in that picture, I saw Him in Heaven, seated on his throne. There were bowls before Him. As I continued to pray, the prayers that I had so diligently prayed day after day, month after month, year after year began to pour into one of the bowls. As the bowl filled with my prayers, intercessions and petitions, the bowl began to overflow and spill out all over me. God showed me that all these prayers and blessings are stored up for us in heaven, and they pour out all over us. So often, I have viewed God as disinterested when I hadn’t received answers from him. When He was silent, I would agonise over whether God really cared about me or loved me at all. This picture encouraged me so much, because it reminded me that [God does hear my prayers, and that even when it seems like nothing is happening, things are being stored up for a heavenly outpouring.]
It’s always exciting when God affirms our pictures of encouragement with what is written in the Word of God. In the book of Revelations, John describes golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints—in other words the prayers of God’s people collectively fill heavenly bowls with a sweet aroma.
3 Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. 5 Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.
Jentzen Franklin said, “What a marvelous image! When you pray, you are filling the prayer bowls of heaven. In God’s perfect timing, your prayers are mixed with the fire of God (His power) and cast back down to earth to change your situation… Even if you don’t feel like anything is happening in the natural world, when you pray, you are filling the prayer bowls in the spirit realm. When they are full, they will tilt and pour out answers to your prayers!”
Given the UAE’s extremely sunny weather, it is home to several water parks. In the kid’s sections of these waterparks, you often find children standing under a giant bucket that hangs overheard. The bucket fills with water little by little and as it draws near to the tipping point, their anticipation and excitement is written so clearly on their faces because they know what’s coming—a great outpouring. Suddenly, the bucket tips over and a great flood of refreshment crashes down on the expectant kids.
Oftentimes we have grown weary from praying the same prayer over and over. Fatigued, sometimes we walk away from the bucket—just before receiving the refreshing outpouring. This is not about works—trying to make something happen in our own strength—but about consistency and persistence.
In Luke 18:1-8 in the Message, Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said,
“There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ 4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’” 6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
Persistence is powerful. Persistence means to continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty and opposition. God is encouraging us to be persistent in our prayers and to trust that He is listening and that our bowls in heaven are in the process of being filled. We must trust that there will be an incredible time when every prayer and every petition mixed with every tear and cry from your heart has been heard and captured and will be poured back over you in full, delightful measure—and not only will you be refreshed but all those standing with you and trusting with you will join in the celebration.
We can take comfort in the words written in Deuteronomy 7:9:
“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”
So keep praying, persisting and persevering. Even when it’s difficult and it seems like there’s no point in uttering the same words again and again. God hears us, and He will answer in time.