As I write this, a street in my neighbourhood is closed. The bomb squad is investigating. A university in the area also has all five campuses shut because of a bomb scare. You probably think I should move.
Bombs are destructive. They do incredible damage. What if that was not always the case? Imagine a bomb that could reorder matter for good; that could deconstruct what ought not to be, leaving what should be.
What if God were to take our prayers, which ascend to his throne, and hurl them back with divine power? A prayer bomb of God’s will, done on earth as it is in heaven.
The book of Revelation gives us so many great images. The problem is we don’t spend much time looking at them, because we don’t quite know what to do with this particular piece of literature. One of those images in found in Revelation 5:8, where we see golden bowls of incense in the throne room of God. In Revelation, John usually just relates what he is seeing. Yet here John gives us a brief word of explanation about these bowls. He explains that they are the prayers of God’s people. Is he making sure we don’t miss the point about prayer? That all of those fervent, and sometimes despairing, words offered to God are stored up before the throne. They are known! They are heard! They are precious! That is an awesome truth. Yet if that’s all there was to the story, it would end in disappointment.
It is not the end of this image, however. We see it again in Revelation 8:3-5.
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
God puts prayer into action in a powerful way. Prayer Bombs! The prayers of God’s people ignited by the divine power of God destroying what ought not to be, and bringing about what God desires. Did you notice where those prayer bombs landed? Right back on earth. This is the image that always comes to my mind when I read the words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”.
Do we really pray with this picture in mind? I suspect not. Instead, I often find myself in Annie Dillard’s famous quote:
“Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
I would say it’s us who need to wake up. God is at work, powerfully. He desires us to join him. We have the privilege of doing that in a variety of ways. One of them is life-altering, earth-shaking, prayer. Strategic prayer strikes from the throne room of heaven. Bomb blasts that will significantly further God’s plan of lovingly caring for, and redeeming all things. Do you want to join the bomb squad?
National Mission Director