“Your prayers and your acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.”- Acts 10:4
In Acts chapter 10 we are introduced to a man named Cornelius. Cornelius is a Roman, not a Jew, but clearly has a relationship with God. He is a God fearing man who is known for two things; being devoted to prayer, and giving generously to the poor. He is said to be someone who “prayed continually”.
We don’t know much else about Cornelius. Why was he so devoted to prayer? How long had prayer been such a big part of his lifestyle? How did he, as a Roman, come to devote himself to prayer?
What we do know is that God heard his prayers.
In fact, in verse 4 we get an incredible description of his prayers coming “up as a memorial offering before God”. These words instantly remind me of one of my favourite verses in the Bible, Revelation 8:4: “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God….” These images of our prayers rising up in front of God, like the smoke from incense are so powerful for one reason: God really takes great notice of our prayers!
I feel like one lie that is easy to believe when it comes to prayer, is that God isn’t really listening, or that our prayers aren’t important to God. Maybe some of our ‘better’ prayers get through to Him, but most go unnoticed. These lies can really take hold in seasons where perhaps we are not seeing many answers to our prayers. However the Bible teaches us the incredible truth that when we pray, in Jesus name, we have access to the throne room of God.
Can you imagine the God who made the universe focusing his full attention on every word of your prayers, taking time, and putting thought, effort and consideration into everything you say in prayer? Cornelius prayed continually, but he probably had every reason to believe that his prayers and actions might go unnoticed by God. He was a gentile, and at that time, he was not one of God’s people. He surely could have felt like he was on the peripherals of God’s attention… but God made it clear that all of his prayers, and his faithful actions were very much noticed, seen, and heard.
As you devote yourself to prayer for this 40 day season, I encourage you that no matter how close, or distant you may feel to God, He hears and cares very much about your prayers. I encourage you to fight any lie that your prayers aren’t important to God, or are in any way unnoticed.
As you pray, I encourage you to imagine your prayers rising up in front of God, like the incense smoke described in the Bible; every word heard and thought about by God.