By T.M. Anderson
"... Golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." -- REV. 5:8.
Christ frequently chooses some unusual place on earth to reveal Himself to mankind. It is obviously consistent with His Divine Nature and eternal purpose in redemption to disclose Himself in some unusual place and in some unexpected manner.
He revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush in a desert. He revealed Himself to be the long expected Messiah to a woman of unsavory reputation at Jacob's well. He revealed a measure of His effulgent glory to three chosen disciples on a high mountain. He revealed Himself and His purpose to give the Gentiles the Gospel to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.
Perhaps the most amazing revelation ever given to mortal man was given to John when the Saviour revealed Himself clothed in His majesty and might standing in the midst of the seven churches. John said, "... When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead...."--Rev. 1: 17. Christ chose to reveal Himself to John while in exile on the lonely isle of Patmos. This holy disciple was banished to this wave-washed and wind-swept pile of shattered stones and shifting sands, "... For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."--Rev. 1:9. The Saviour selected this faithful man to be the human channel through which His sublime truth could be given to His trusting saints. It pleased the blessed Lord to reveal the sublime truth about prayer in John's picturesque language, "... Golden vials full of odours ..."
Our Lord would evidently have us understand that prayer is a part of worship. It is like the odours of sweet incense ascending upward to God. The heavenly Father is pleased with our fervent prayers when we fill them with the fragrance of our sincere worship.
The Saviour would have us understand that our prayers are kept in golden vials in His Holy Place in heaven like the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, were kept in the most Holy Place in the temple.
Perhaps God's praying people have not fully grasped the fact that all sincere prayers are immortal, and the Lord preserves these prayers like a sweet incense kept in golden vials.
We surely are aware that Christ's prayers are living petitions preserved for us in His plan of eternal salvation. He breathed the power of His endless life into His prayers. His prayers are immortal because He is immortal. His prayers will be answered because He is the answer to all prayer.
The prayers recorded in the Holy Scriptures are an immortal part of the Divine plan of salvation. These petitions were made immortal by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables God's people to pray with yearnings which cannot be uttered. "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." -- Rom. 8:27.
It is clearly disclosed in this remarkable Scripture that every prayer empowered by the indwelling Spirit becomes an integral and immortal part of the entire economy of God as disclosed in the plan of redemption.
I am thoroughly convinced that every prayer offered according to the will of God shall be answered either in our lifetime on earth, or after we have entered our heavenly home. However, I cannot discover anything revealed in the Word of God to warrant anyone in believing that the translated saints can pray for persons living on the earth. Praying to the translated saints, and asking them to pray for us, is a modified form of idolatry. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. All prayers must be offered to Him, and in His Name only.
When I affirm that every prayer offered in the Name of Jesus shall be answered, I am not saying that God will overrule the human will in order to answer our prayers. He cannot and will not save any man against his will, but He will convict a man of sin against his will.
Perhaps an incident will disclose what I mean when I speak of an immortal prayer. One night during a camp meeting, a man came to the altar weeping with deep conviction for sin. After a season of earnest prayer, he was converted and gave a glowing testimony. His faithful father had preached for many years and had prayed often during those years for his unsaved son. He never lived to see his son saved, but on this particular night in the camp meeting, the loving Lord answered prayer and saved this erring son of the preacher.
It helps me to imagine that the Saviour called His sainted servant and said, "My child, I have many of your prayers in golden vials. They are like sweet odours poured out before Me. I have the prayers you offered for your erring son during your lifetime on earth. I am now ready to answer your prayers during the camp meeting where you preached My Gospel many years ago. My child, I have just now granted your son a pardon in answer to your prayers and prayers of My people." It encourages my heart to believe that God will answer every prayer.
While praying during the quiet hours of the morning in a hotel room some years ago, I was burdened to pray for a woman slowly dying with a cancer of the throat. She had been a successful missionary for many years and had returned home from the field broken in health, bitter and resentful in spirit. I knew her saintly mother during her lifetime, and I knew how she had prayed for her daughter.
While praying for this dying missionary, the Lord said to me, "I am ready and willing to answer a mother's prayer, and give her suffering daughter peace of heart and mind." I was so sure that the Lord had spoken to me about this dying woman, and about His willingness to answer her mother's prayers, that I wrote a letter urging certain women to go and pray with this suffering missionary. She found peace and comfort of heart and mind, and went home within a few weeks to be with her faithful Saviour and her rejoicing mother.
Many of the Lord's redeemed children will live and die without receiving the answers to many of their sincere prayers. When we live by faith and die in the faith, we can be assured that a Just and Holy God will not forget His certified promises regarding His willingness to answer the prayers offered in the Name of Jesus.
The "... golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints," shall be poured out before the mediatorial throne of Jesus some glorious day. When that gladsome hour shall arrive on the wings of time, we shall see the triumph of the tears we have shed in the hours of agonizing prayer. We shall see the Father glorified in the Son.
We are living in a passing world filled with fears and doubts; but we can live in this transient world and not be filled with its fears and doubts regarding the answer to our prayers. The inspired Psalmist said, "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us." Psa. 62:8.
God's certified promises relating to prayer give us the inalienable right to say, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."--Psa. 61:1,2.
The Scriptures encourage us to pray incessantly and importunately knowing within ourselves that God will answer our petitions in His own time, and according to His own will. Let us offer up prayers with strong crying and tears unto Him that is able to save to the uttermost. Let us pray without ceasing until the hour comes for our immortal prayer to be poured out like sweet incense poured out of golden vials.