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Sermon: God’s Final Declaration on Prayer, Revelation 8–9

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God’s Final Declaration on Prayer 

What exactly are we doing in prayer?

Revelation 8–9

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 3, In the year of our Lord, 2016


  1. God thunders from heaven! 
    1. John 12 records God thundering during the days of Jesus on Earth.
      1. Notice what Jesus did to bring on this event,
      2. then hear the event itself and
        1. finally, listen to how some people interpreted the event,

          28 “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered (John 12.28–29).
        2. Jesus prayed!
          1. The Father spoke from heaven!
          2. People thought it thundered.
  2. Can anything else in the natural sky get our attention more than thunder? 
    1. When God speaks,
      1. He gets the attention of Earth as thunder does and
      2. things happen on the Earth.
    2. When we speak
      1. it gets the attention of God like thunder and
      2. things happen in heaven, then on the Earth.
  3. One man (George Herbert, 1593–1633), said prayer is Reversed Thunder. 
    1. God thunders from heaven, and
    2. we thunder back from Earth.
      1. Yes, our prayers get God’s attention
      2. as if we thundered in heaven.


  1. Prayer Empowers the Church 
    1. The Roman Empire persecuted the church horribly.
    2. The church:
      1. Did not have weapons,
      2. did not run a political machine,
      3. had little money, and
      4. had no prestige.
        1. Why did they not sue someone?
        2. Why did they not compromise?
          1. They heard the thunderings of God in Scripture and preaching.
          2. They thundered back to Him in prayer.
  2. Prayer Silences Heaven 
    1. Revelation 8 shows
      1. the influence we have with heaven, and
      2. the influence we have on Earth,

        1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the Earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound (Rev 8.1–6).
    2. In Revelation 8, we go from prayer
      1. to silence in heaven
      2. to thunderings on Earth.
    3. God and the rest of His heaven
      1. become silent at the thunder
      2. ascending from the Earth to the throne of God.
        1. God readies seven angels with trumpets.
        2. Another angel takes the prayers of the saints from the altar,
          1. mixes their prayers with incense, and
          2. offers their prayers before God.
    4. Then that angel
      1. takes his censer,
      2. with fire from the altar where the prayers were,
      3. puts fire in his censer,
        1. then hurls it to the Earth, and
        2. see what happens when it lands on the Earth:
          1. It shakes the Earth,
          2. it breaks forth into lightning,
          3. its thunder fills the air, and
          4. there are noises.
    5. When we thunder up to heaven,
      1. the God of heaven thunders back,
      2. not at us, but for us against our enemies.
    6. When the Roman Empire began to shake and crumble
      1. do you think the news reporters and other analysts
        1. reported that the shake up of the Roman Empire
        2. happened because of the prayers of the people they were persecuting?
  3. Prayer Centers All Things 
    1. What did we just see in Revelation 8?
      1. We saw the incalculable power of prayer.
      2. We saw the prayers of the saints enter the control room of the universe.
      3. We saw the prayers of the saints,
        1. working with the God of heaven and
        2. working with His angels
          1. to change the world.
    2. Think of what that meant to John,
      1. exiled on the Isle of Patmos, and
      2. to the saints persecuted by the Roman Empire.
    3. Rome thought that it showed who was in charge, but
      1. the prayers of the saints
      2. reversed the thunder of God and showed
        1. that He is in charge,
        2. that He turns the government wherever He wishes, and
        3. that His saints influence Him.
    4. We saw the saints connect themselves to the greatest power that exists, and
      1. they harnessed that power as they saw fit.
      2. God speaks to us of His immense power, and
        1. prayer says back to God
        2. that we have heard the message.
  4. Prayer Unleashes Power 
    1. We pray because we sense our powerlessness, but
    2. we pray to Him who connects us with unlimited power!

      13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phi 4.13).
    3. Prayer, therefore, brings all things in life together, because
      1. we focus upon Him who made all things, and
      2. who runs all things.

        “By centering attention on God the center, all things become centered” (Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder, page 91).
        1. Without prayer we make ourselves the problem-solvers.
        2. With prayer we remember Him from whom life comes.
      3. Think about it.
        1. We give thanks for our food, because
          1. we believe that He gets it to us.
        2. We ask God to help the sick, because
          1. we believe that He controls the medical world.
        3. Should we not pray for greater things for the same reason?
    4. Revelation 8 and 9 show power unleashed because of our prayers.
      1. 8.2 showed seven special angels who stand before God.
        1. Someone gave them each a trumpet.
        2. However, they did not sound the trumpets.
      2. 8.3–4 showed that the prayers of the saints had to ascend to heaven first.
      3. 8.5 then showed
        1. the prayers that ascended to heaven
        2. affecting the Earth.
      4. Finally, 8.6 shows the angels preparing to sound their trumpets.
        1. 8.7–11 show the results.
          1. Things started happening on the Earth.
          2. The Earth experiences great changes as a result of our prayers.
        2. 8.12–9.21 record the happenings of the next trumpets.
          1. The people of the Earth think that they get away with their sins.
          2. They think they have success in silencing the Lord and His people.
            1. God responds to the prayers of His people, and
            2. whole empires come crashing down.
      5. The seventh trumpet does not sound until 11.15.
  5. Prayer Calms the Soul 
    1. Prayer silences heaven.
      1. Prayer calms the soul in the midst of this noisy world,
      2. reminding us who is in charge.
    2. Prayer is the marvel of all marvels.
      1. That God would speak to us is a marvel.
      2. That God would listen to us is a greater marvel.
        1. We struggle to speak to God,
        2. not saying the right words,
          1. not constructing our sentences properly,
          2. not emphasizing what we should emphasize, but
            1. God still listens to our spiritual stuttering.
            2. Why does He bother to listen to us?
      3. Prayer is the marvel of all marvels, because
        1. what we think, matters to God;
        2. what we feel, matters to Him also.
    3. All the sounds of heaven God silences
      1. as He truly listens to the prayers of the saints,
      2. mingled with incense, mingled with the groanings of the Holy Spirit.
    4. Revelation 8 shows our prayers on the golden altar before the throne of God.
      1. Revelation 6 had introduced us to the altar,

        9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the Earth?” (Rev 6.9–10).
      2. That is the same altar as the one in chapter 8.
        1. They wanted to know how long before God avenged them.
        2. Revelation 8 shows the long-awaited answer.
    5. You see, the delay in answering prayer is not
      1. procrastination or neglect on God’s part,
      2. nor does He forget us, but
        1. what needs to be done to answer our prayers
        2. He works on as we wait.
  6. Prayer Cures Our Spiritual Vertigo 
    1. Life makes us dizzy.
      1. We do not know how to gain our balance,
      2. as one extreme rules and then the other extreme happens.
    2. In prayer we remind ourselves
      1. that Someone greater than all the Earth watches over all things.
      2. Is that not why we pray to God?
    3. Prayer gives us back our balance, because
      1. in passages like Revelation 8,
      2. we learn that God does not store our prayers on a shelf.
        1. No, He has an angel mix our prayers with incense,
        2. then the angel takes God’s answers to our incense-laden prayers,
          1. mixes them with fire from the altar in heaven itself, and
          2. throws them down to the Earth,
            1. causing magnificent things to happen.
            2. For example, you know what Paul told Timothy,

              1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1Ti 2.1, 2).
              1. Why should we speak to God about all men?
              2. Why should we speak to God about those in authority?
      3. Solomon said why in Proverbs 21, and
        1. this passage has been around for three thousand years, and
        2. the Holy Spirit has preserved it for a reason,

          1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,
          Like the rivers of water;
          He turns it wherever He wishes.
          (Pro 21.1)
          1. The last line says that the Lord turns the heart of the king
          2. wherever the Lord desires to turn it.
            1. Yet, First Timothy 2 tells us to pray for the king.
            2. Therefore, it must be
              1. that the God of heaven considers
              2. our wishes before He does what He wishes.
                1. Do you see why prayer is reversed thunder?
                2. By prayer we influence history.
    4. Prayer give us balance because
      1. it allows us to work with God in whatever He does,

        “We are God’s fellow workers” (1Co 3.9).
      2. Who has more balance than God?
        1. Therefore, if we hang on to Him in prayer, we get balance.
        2. Our prayers ascend to God in feebleness, and descend in fire.
    5. The world knocks us around,
      1. giving us spiritual vertigo, but
      2. God uprights us,
        1. by showing that after we have prayed,
        2. the angels of heaven readied themselves to sound their trumpets.
          1. Do you see that in Revelation 8.6?
          2. Are we not supposed to pray,

            10 “Your kingdom come.
            Your will be done
            On Earth as it is in heaven.”
            (Matt 6.10)?
            1. Do you think heaven is a crazy mixed up place?
            2. No, it is the place of ultimate balance, and
              1. we can take part in that balance even on Earth,
              2. if we pray, reversing God’s thunder back to Him!
    6. Does God hear the prayer of Matthew 6.10?
      1. After you read of the events of heaven in Revelation 8,
      2. remembering the seven angels each with a trumpet,
        1. John then shows the angels sounding their trumpets, and
        2. in Revelation 11, you read this,

          15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11.15).


  1. Why then fail to pray? 
  2. If it is true that prayer is reversed thunder, 
    1. let us thunder back to God in heaven for you.
    2. What is your request?
  3. If it is true that prayer is reversed thunder, 
    1. what have you been thundering back to God in heaven for the church?
    2. If you need us to thunder toward heaven right now, please come forward.
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