The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, 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 … Revelation 8:4-5

Mark Buchanan writes about prayer in his book, Your God is Too Safe. He refers to this earlier reference to the saints’ prayers, “they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8), Buchanan says, sometimes it feels like our prayers are nothing more than sweet perfume. They make a nice smell but do they achieve anything?

Then he writes about the above verses, “The perfume becomes bombs. The long wait is finally interrupted, and everything is altered. At a point beyond our choosing, beyond our ability to predict or control or delay or hasten, the sweet but inert fragrance of all the prayers we’ve sent heavenward is ignited with holy fire, and sent hurtling back to earth. The status quo is forever shaken, split open, reordered. The demons flee. The blind see. The dead arise. As He did with Elijah, the God who is not safe answers with the fire from heaven, and Baal loses.”

We are called to be faithful in prayer, to be perfume makers because one day the perfume becomes bombs and our prayers are going to have far more impact than we could’ve imagined. Sometimes our prayers are too small. We pray for small improvements but maybe God wants to drop a bombshell and totally reorder the whole situation. Maybe God doesn’t want a small improvement but wants to change the status quo forever.

The significant phrase is, “at a point beyond our choosing”, the timing is always up to God. In the meantime, we pray.