Sermon on Revelation 8:3-5 | Prayer Works


Prayer Works (Revelation 8:3-5)

Prayer is one of the greatest resources known to man. J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI, said, “The spectacle of a nation praying is more awe-inspiring than the explosion of an atomic bomb. The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man-made or man-controlled powers, because prayer is man’s greatest means of trapping the infinite resources of God.”

He could say that because “Prayer Works.”

God’s People Pray, v 3

The angel was given incense to offer with the prayers of the saints.

God expects his people to be a praying people. “Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart” (Lk 18:1). “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).

Time of trouble should be times of prayer. When Revelation was written the church was facing some of the worst persecution it has ever experienced. These Christians had nowhere to turn but to God in prayer. When we have trouble, prayer should be one of our top priorities.

God’s people should pray, because God hears our prayers. “The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” When we pray, we are able to talk with the Creator of the world.

Brethren, we must pray.

A soldier came to complain to General Stonewall Jackson about some noise in the camp. The general asked his soldier what the trouble was. The soldier said, “Some men were singing, but now they’re praying.” “Is that a crime?” the general asked. The soldier replied, “The Articles of War demand that any unusual noise be punished.” The general replied, “God forbid that praying should be an unusual sound in the camp.”

A boy said his prayers while his prayerless father watched. After finishing his prayers, the boy looked at his father, and said, “Are you going to pray now, Daddy, or are you too big to pray?”

God’s People Need Help in Praying, v 4

“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” When a priest offered incense inside the temple, the people outside offered prayer (Lk 1:10). Thus, prayer and incense came to be thought of together.

The incense seems to refer to divine help in prayer. The Spirit of God helps us pray (Rom 8:26-27). We don’t always know how to pray, so the Spirit helps us pray as we should.

God’s People Receive Answers to Prayer, v 5

“Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”

Here is an image of divine judgment. Christians had been praying for judgment against Rome. God says, “I will judge those who persecute my people.” Very shortly after Revelation was written, God brought judgment against Rome.

Prayer is ever so powerful. Matthew 7:7-8. Amos 7:1-6.

God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we want him to. I can’t look at situations and say, “Here is why God answered your prayer this way.” I have prayed for many folks to overcome their illness when they ended up dying. It is appointed for man to die once (Heb 9:27). Death is a result of sin (Gen 3:19). Even the very Son of God prayed to be delivered from the death of the cross, but he still died.

Since God has promised to answer our prayers, let’s pray.


God does not hear the prayer of the ungodly. Isaiah 59:1-2. Micah 3:4.

Let’s live good lives so that God can hear and answer our prayers.

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Main Street church of Christ in Pikeville, Kentucky.

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