A Full Bowl Full

by William J. Stewart

A few years back, there was a TV commercial advertising a certain brand of breakfast cereal. I can’t recall what cereal it was, but remember the advertiser using the phrase “a full bowl full.” Apparently their cereal was so good, that you would want your bowl to be full.

Eat your cereal however you would like, and in whatever quantity you desire. It might be healthier to forego the cereal entirely and have a bowl of fruit instead. Your breakfast menu is not the focus of our study today. But I do want us to pursue the thought of having a “full bowl full,” not of cereal, but of prayer.

The apostle John records in Revelation 4-5 his experience in the throne room of heaven. After the scroll was given to the Lamb of God, who alone is worthy to open the seals on it, John records in 5:8:

…the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

We will leave the details of “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders” and the harps for another discussion. We want to focus our attention on these “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

What an amazing picture! Our prayers, if we are God’s elect, are presented before His throne! Hebrews 4:16 tells us to

…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The thought of approaching the throne of God with confidence permeates the New Testament (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 10:19, 22; James 1:6; 1 John 3:21-22; 5:14-15).

What confidence is our’s when we bow our heads in prayer! God is attentive to the petitions of His people, for His throne is pictured as being encircled by these bowls of incense.

We should not think it tedious for Him that we bring our cares and concerns to Him. He has commanded that we do so (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 5:7). It delights our Father to hear and tend to the concerns of His children.

John saw “golden bowls Full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Friend, what does your bowl look like? Is it full, even to overflowing? Or is it only half-full, or even less?

Among the many blessings which we have in Christ Jesus is the opportunity to have our supplication heard by the God of heaven. Not heard and ignored, but heard with the assurance that He hears us, and will answer accordingly. Such a wonderful blessing, and yet so often, we fail to pray as we ought.

Fill your cereal bowl to whatever level is comfortable for you, and enjoy. But when it comes to your prayer life, be sure to have a full bowl full. Your faith will flourish, and God will be glorified!

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