[The following are excerpts from “The Ministry of the Harp and Bowl – The Connection between Prayer and Worship”]
As I was studying the scripture, looking for insight and revelation on prayer and the workings of the throne room of God, I began to see a pattern develop from the scripture I was reading. I felt that the book of Revelation had a clear picture of the activities surrounding God’s presence and that it would shed greater light on my study. Upon closer review of these passages, I saw the ministry of the harp and bowl clearly emerge from the pages. Let’s look at four key passages. First, Revelations 5:8-9 says,
“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”
Revelation 8:3-4 also declares,
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
Psalm 141:1-3 says,
“Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
And finally let’s look at Luke 1:9-10,
“According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.”
As I was reading these verses, the Lord began to show me how important our worship and prayer is. He showed me the connection between the two. They always somehow appear at the same time or are components of the same atmosphere. Somehow one drives the other and vice versa.
Prayer is the ultimate mark of worship. Prayer is worship in its truest form. Prayer in these verses is symbolic of incense going up before the Lord as a sweet aroma to Him. It was the goal of every Jew to manifest a true relationship with God. Prayer and worship is the vehicle through which this type of relationship manifest.
Worship is typically thought of in terms of music and singing before God, and prayer as communion with Him; but I am writing this because I know that as worshippers we must began to expand our mindsets concerning worship. Worship in a traditional sense includes such activities as adoration, thanksgiving, the offering of sacrifice and the making of vows. Even more, its ultimate goal is that of prayer and intercession.
God began to show me why we cannot take our worship and our ministry of prayer for granted. The people of God must come back to God’s original intent for His church and for His people. God said in Isaiah 56:7,
“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
Jesus picks it up in the New Testament and says to the church of His day in Matthew 21:13,
“It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Solomon dedicated the house as the house of prayer, not the house of worship. He understood that prayer was the ultimate goal for the House of the Lord. It was a place of communion and fellowship with God. A place where His presence could be found amongst His people and they be found with Him. A place for life, revelation, restoration and intimacy with God. All of these things flow from prayer.
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