Rev. 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
What an unusual concept, accumulated prayers. I guess the reason the concept of stored up prayers seems strange may be our lack of understanding of what true prayer is. The nature of prayer is spiritual, not natural. Our effective prayers are birthed by the Holy Spirit making our prayers themselves supernatural. Praying in the Spirit is actually The Lord praying through us; we may be praying scripture, praying for some well known need in our natural language, or even praying in our heavenly language. The Lord actually prays through us making our prayers actually eternal prayers. Our prayers transcend time and space and for us, stuck in the finite world governed by time, prayers appear to be “stored up” before the Father’s Throne. Here is how Andrew Murray describes stored up prayer.
“We learn here that the prayers of the saints in the Old Testament concerning the promised redemption were preserved in heaven. These prayers are offered as incense at the throne of the Lamb, so that He may lay them before the Father. Later, in Revelation 8 we also read of the angel who stood at the altar before the throne with a golden censer filled with the prayers of all the saints.
What profound and heavenly thoughts do these words awaken within us! The prayers of the saints are not answered at once. Just as men on earth accumulate money and allow it to increase as capital for greater undertakings, so the prayers of the saints are stored up in heaven until the measure is full and the answer can descend.”
There is a lot of prayer that has been stored up these last 2000 years. Every time I pray; Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, my prayers join together with the countless multitudes that have prayed that prayer the last 2000 years. My prayers are accumulated with the prayers of the 12 apostles, with the Apostle Paul, and all of those powerful first century Christians. My prayers are mingled before the throne with the prayers of the martyrs from every generation. They are joined with the prayers of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Bunyan. They ascend with the prayers of Whitefield, Edwards, Wesley, and Spurgeon. They even are rising as incense with the prayers of Evan Roberts, Seymore, MacPhaerson and Kuhlman. Come Lord, pour out your Spirit, your censer is filling up!!!