Harp and Bowl
By Sue Towne
“Harp and Bowl,” a kind of combined prayer and worship, is a term which comes from Revelation 5:8. View it as prayer that is sung or spoken while music continues to pray, or as worship that includes prayer but does not interrupt the flow of the music. Music brings a prophetic anointing to the prayer, and prayer connects us with the heart of God during worship.
In Rev. 5:8 the prayers of the saints are pictured as incense burning in golden bowls before the throne of God. A duty of the Levitical priests under the Old Covenant was to burn incense, day and night, on a special golden altar in the Holy Place (I Chron. 23:13, Ex. 30:1-10). This burning incense is a picture of prayer which is pleasing to God, like the smell of incense. Rev. 8:3-5 shows what happens to “incense prayers” in heaven. They are emptied onto a golden altar. An angel fills a censor with this burning incense and throws some of it onto the earth, releasing judgment–judgment that comes as a result of the prayers of the saints! It is not clear whether the saints pray for this judgment or whether they just cry out to God for relief from evil. But the resulting judgment purges the evil and brings righteous order to earth–a good thing, right? (i.e. see Acts 16:25).
When we combine the priestly incense bowl of prayer with the harp of worship, we have a picture of the worship/prayer of heaven from Revelation 5. We have simultaneous worship and prayer–prayers that are sung, played on instruments, or accompanied by song, with complete submission to God, worshippers falling down prostrate before the Lamb. This is a powerful way to worship God–and a powerful way to pray.