IV. INCENSE BEING ADDED TO PRAYER
Revelation 8 clearly shows us two things: the prayers of the saints, and the Angel, that is, the Lord Jesus, bringing much incense. The incense refers to the resurrected Christ. This incense is added to the prayers of the saints.
May I ask you, brothers and sisters, can the Lord Jesus add the incense to all your prayers? No. If you wish to have the Lord Jesus in resurrection added to your prayer, your prayer surely must pass through the redemption of the blood and the termination of the cross. The prayers in Revelation 8 were prayers of death and resurrection, so once the incense of those prayers was presented before God, there were immediately thunders and lightnings poured down on earth. This means that God both hears and answers those prayers of ours which are in death and resurrection.
Revelation 8 shows us how God in His administration is going to judge this age. But this judgment is waiting for the prayers of those who have received both the redemption of the blood and the termination by the cross. It is waiting for the prayers of those who have been resurrected to seek after His heart and who stand on the position of death, thus allowing the resurrected Christ to be joined with their prayers. Those, thence, will be tremendous prayers which can judge and end this age. We repeat, the reason that they are able to pray for such high and great things is because they have been terminated at the cross and are able to allow the resurrected Christ to be added to their prayers. This is the meaning of the incense being added to the prayers.
We have said before that true prayers are Christ in us praying to the Christ in heaven. Here, then, we have a problem. As we are men of many opinions, how can Christ find a way to come out of our prayers? To allow Him the way, we need to pass through the cleansing of the blood and the termination of the fire. Terminated ones have no opinions. At the cross we receive redemption and termination. Then the Christ in us can be united with us and put us on to pray. Consequently, your prayer is Christ. When Christ thus expresses Himself through us, that is the incense being added to our prayers.
Some say that the incense here refers to the merits of Christ. This is so, but it refers even more to the resurrected Christ. It includes His merits, all that He is, all that He has accomplished, and all that He does. The resurrected Christ with all His work and fruits is the incense. As long as we receive the redemption of the blood and are in the termination of the cross, the Christ in us is joined with us. Then when we pray, it is Christ who prays. At such a time our prayer is the expression of Christ. As a result, before God these prayers are the incense which is acceptable to God and will be answered by God.
Prayers before God must be of two aspects. They include man’s prayer, and the incense of Christ’s resurrection added to that prayer. In Revelation 5 there are only the prayers of the saints—only the golden bowls with no incense added to them. Therefore, there is also no answer to prayer. Answers to prayer are based on the fact that incense has been added to that prayer. In chapter eight there is a complete picture. There are the prayers of the saints, and there is also the resurrected Christ added as incense to those prayers. Both are being offered before God. At the same time, there are also the answers to prayer being poured down. This is the ultimate result of prayer based on the experience of the cross.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)