9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
Later, in chapter 8, just as He had earlier promised, God does indeed answer their prayers, as the seven trumpet judgements unfold. One of the great lessons of Revelation chapter 8 is that prayer does work. God does hear our prayers, and He does answer them. It may not always be according to our timetable or preference; but He does answer them in His time and in His way.
If you have ever felt like your prayers were unheard, then Revelation chapter 8 is for you. In truth, prayer does work. In fact, in Matthew 18:18-19 tells us:
18 I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
A great illustration of this principle comes to us from ancient China…
It seems that there was a heavy bronze bell that had sunk to the bottom of a river. The efforts of various engineers to raise the bell were unsuccessful. At last, a monk asked for permission to make the attempt, on condition that the bell should be given to his temple. After receiving permission, he then had his assistants gather an immense number of bamboo poles. Bamboo, of course, is hollow, light, and practically unsinkable.
So, the poles were taken down by divers, one by one, and fastened to the bell. After thousands of poles were fastened, the bell began to move, and when the last one had been added, the buoyancy of the accumulated poles was so great that they actually lifted the enormous bell to the surface.
We are often tempted to think that, like a single piece of bamboo, our individual prayers are too small and too lightweight to make any difference. Perhaps God wants us to consider the power of our prayers when added to those of others.
Perhaps He is asking us to realize that without our prayers, nothing much will change, nothing much will be accomplished. But, when combined with those of other believers, the power of our prayers can be astounding. Nothing moves the heart and hand of God like the passionate prayers of His people.