When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.... Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:8-13 HCSB)
Zechariah was a priest and soon to be the father of John the Baptizer. He was the husband of Elizabeth, a barren woman and she was a cousin of Mary, Jesus' mom.. This is an experience of a revelation of God's will, soon to be played out.
Zechariah was in the temple taking care of the incense, a sweet smelling symbol to God of the prayers of His people. Outside the people were actually praying. An Angel came and told him that his prayers would be answered, he was soon to have a son. He was to name him John. He didn't believe and so the angel made him speechless until John was born.
This is the entry into the Christmas story. However one interesting part of Zechariah's story is the bowl of incense, the prayers of God's people. Hebrews says that some of the honorable people of God didn't get what they were promised before they went Home. They had a few weighty prayers that did not really receive an answer. And we probably have the same issue to deal with as them. So, God keeps our prayers in that bowl, just like He keeps our tears in a bottle, until it's time for an answer. When Jesus comes to get us it sets off the pouring out of the bowl onto the earth.
Our prayers matter. They matter now in forming a more close relationship with the Savior and many prayers are answered for us making this world a sweeter place for our family and friends. And he does give to us in a generous way. But if you find out God withholds something from you, it's to your benefit and will possibly have an even more powerful effect in eternity.