Prayers not wasted.
Our prayers are not wasted. I believe this for I have experienced the results of answers to specific prayers. I also believe the Scripture that tells us that our prayers are not wasted.
Certainly, there are times we pray for weeks or years for something or someone. Sometimes the only answer we receive is a “No.” This does not mean our prayers are not heard or that God does not care.
Our prayers are known as incense before God. Psalm 141:2 says: “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
David wrote this song when he was not able to pray in the temple. It was a time when he was separated from worshiping in the temple. Either he was running for his life or away from the temple. This Psalm indicates that he still remembered God’s call to worship at the evening sacrifice, which was 3PM. David might not have understood that the incense of his prayers were eternal, but he understood the importance of coming before God in prayer.
Incense is a combination of aromatic spices, herbs, and oils that yields its strongest fragrance when warmed or burned. The aroma of incense was a physical picture of the prayers of God’s people wafting up to heaven. Throughout the Old Testament, the burning of incense was a crucial part of worshiping Yahweh, and those who burned it in an unworthy manner were severely punished.
Revelation tells us that the prayers of the saints are present at the opening of the seven seals. “. . . and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Revelation also tells us that the angel was given “much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.”
Prayers of the saints
I find comfort in knowing that my prayers (and yours) do not become void weeks or years after we pray. Even after we are no longer praying from this earth, our prayers are still there before God. The prayers of the saints continue on, moving the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those for whom we have prayed.