"Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people."
- Revelation 5:8 NIV
In recent years, the Lord has been teaching me the importance of praying in advance. One of the best examples of this was when my youngest son, John, became engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Amy. God had given me a "knowing" that I should not wait until my son got married before I began praying against the effects of "empty nest syndrome," but that I should begin right away. My oldest son, Joseph, had already married, so when John moved out, my husband and I would be without children around our house for the first time in 26 years. So years ahead of time, I began praying that the Lord would guard me from the sorrow and despair that so many parents experience in this situation. When John finally did marry and move out, I was sad to see him go, but I never suffered the way I knew I would have if I hadn't begun praying for God's strength and comfort in advance.
Just the other day, I told a dear friend of mine how one of my loved ones had just undergone a medical test, and how we would be waiting for the results for quite a while. She sympathized with me, but told me to take heart in the fact that we would have that much more time to pray for positive results. All of a sudden, I began thinking about the host of prayers we could have piled up in heaven by the time those test results came back. I've heard it said that prayer is cumulative. That means that our prayers are never cast aside or wasted, but they add up and accumulate before God's throne in heaven itself. I always take great comfort in the fact that the Book of Revelation says that "the prayers of God's people" are kept in "golden bowls" in heaven. (Revelation 5:8)
Jesus said, "Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too. Live one day at a time." (Matthew 6:34 TLB) We are only given the grace to live in the present, so the Lord doesn't want us trying to live in the past, or in the future. But we can send our prayers ahead of us. We can ask God to prepare our way, so that when we face challenges in the days ahead, His grace, strength, and comfort will be waiting there to meet us. And through our prayers, we can prompt the Lord to begin working behind the scenes on our behalf NOW - to bring about victory and success in the days ahead.
Not only can we pray in advance, but we can PRAISE in advance, too. The pages of the Bible are filled with examples of God's people praising God for His miracle-working power on their behalf - even before their prayers are actually answered. Romans 4:20 (TLB) says: "But Abraham never doubted. He believed God, for his faith and trust grew ever stronger, and he praised God for this blessing even before it happened." Anyone can praise and thank God for prayers that have already been answered. But those who praise God before the answer comes demonstrate a greater faith, and may, in fact, receive blessings that others don't.
If you are a parent, even a parent of very young children, I urge you to begin praying for their mates and marriages today. Ask the Lord to show you what matters He would like you to begin praying about in advance. Let your prayers of faith go before you, your spouse, your children and others - so that blessing, victory, and success will be waiting for all of you up ahead!
Prayer: Lord, teach me the value of praying in advance. Remind me often that my prayers are never wasted or cast aside, and that You tenderly treasure them in heaven. Give me the faith I need to praise You in advance for the things You put on my heart. Thank You that as I partnership with You in prayer, Your blessings will be there to meet me in the days to come!
- J. M. Farro