"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." Rev. 8:3-4
THIS angel is none other than the Angel of the Covenant, Jesus, our great High Priest, who stands before the golden altar in heaven, presenting the sweet incense of His divine merits and sacrificial death; the cloud of which ascends before God "with the prayers of the saints." Oh, it is the merit of our Immanuel, "who gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet—smelling savor," that imparts virtue, prevalence, and acceptableness to the incense of prayer ascending from the heart of the child of God. Each petition, each desire, each groan, each sigh, each glance, comes up before God with the "smoke of the incense" which ascends from the cross of Jesus, and from the "golden altar which is before the throne." All the imperfection and impurity which mingles with our devotions here is separated from each petition by the atonement of our Mediator, who presents that as sweet incense to God.
See your Great High Priest before the throne! See Him waving the golden censer to and fro! See how the cloud of incense rises and envelopes the throne! See how heaven is filled with its fragrance and its glory! Believer in Jesus, upon the heart of that officiating High Priest your name is written; in the smoke of the incense which has gone up from that waving censer your prayers are presented. Jesus' blood cleanses them, Immanuel's merit perfumes them, and our glorious High Priest thus presents both our person and our sacrifice to his Father and our Father, to His God and our God. Oh wonderful encouragement to prayer! Who, with such an assurance that his weak, broken, and defiled, but sincere petitions shall find acceptance with God, would not breathe them at the throne of grace. Go, in the name of Jesus; go, casting yourself upon the merit which fills heaven with its fragrance; go, and pour out your grief, unveil your sorrow, confess your sin, sue out your pardon, make known your needs, with your eye of faith upon the Angel who stands at the "golden altar which is before the throne," and the incense which breathes from your oppressed and stricken heart will ascend up before God out of the Angel's hand, as a cloud, rich, fragrant, and accepted.