…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
This bowl made of maple is one of my special treasures. Its value lies in the memories represented by the tree from which it was fashioned. As kids, we named all the natural features of the backyard. There were several rocks, but only one ‘Big Rock’. We had several hills, the Green Hill, the Black Hill, the Side Hill and several special trees. This gave us a map of the four acres that was our world and reference points for telling stories .
My bowl came from the Big Maple. A huge tree that sat in the middle of the backyard. I passed many summer days in the cool shade beneath it playing school, dressing dollies, reading books or just dreaming up the next adventure with my siblings and cousins. The tree was a huge benevolent presence seen from every window at the back of the house, including the one above the kitchen sink where Mommy spent many hours cooking and monitoring what was taking place in the backyard. In the spring, we would find pale blue shells tossed from the robin’s nest after the chicks hatched. In the fall, the colors of that maple tree were stunning yellows, oranges and reds.
An old tree, it was a sad day when it started losing branches. Soon, Daddy had no choice but to take the tree down. It was as though the heart of the backyard had been removed, leaving a hole in the skyline, allowing the sun to shine on a grassy knoll that had always been shady. An old friend was lost forever.
At Christmas that year, what a wonderful surprise to find out Mommy had saved wood from the tree and a woodworker had turned bowls for each of us. So many memories are wrapped up in that treasured bowl. From time to time I fill it with different things, but always take them out, never able to settle on what is worthy to be kept in that bowl.
How wonderful to know that God doesn’t have this problem. He knows what treasure He choses to keep in the golden bowls the Apostle John mentions in the Book of Revelation. He stores the prayers of the saints. Your prayers and my prayers. Whether they are the brief whispers uttered while on the run, the deeper intercessions and praises from morning quiet time or the prayers said aloud in unison in worship – all of them are stored in Heaven in golden bowls. Fragrant like incense, God keeps every one. Even those that remain unanswered are not lost. Not one. They are treasured and held in bowls made of gold.
Happy to keep my maple bowl empty, I want to help fill the bowls of Heaven to overflowing. I want the scent of my prayers and the prayers of all the saints, to be so sweet and powerful, I’ll be able to inhale the heady fragrance here on this earth and be blessed. Helping to fill God’s golden bowls – that is my goal. Will you join me?