Whew!! Last week was our annual Week of Prayer, and getting to the church every morning for 6:00 really interfered with getting a devotional done every day. It was a great week of prayer. Now, back to our regular programming.
Luke 1:5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Luke 1:13 – “your prayer has been heard…” What was Zechariah praying for? Some suggest that he was praying at the moment and God’s reward was to give him and Elizabeth a child. Not likely. The child that will be born is in answer to a prayer for a child. How long has it been since Zechariah and Elizabeth have prayed for her to conceive? The text is clear that Elizabeth is beyond child bearing ability (verse 7).
God answers a prayer years after they have stopped praying for it and years after they have resigned themselves to believing that God was not going to answer in the affirmative. Zechariah and Elizabeth have come to accept that they will not have children and that God’s answer to their payers is “no”.
Their prayer is not answered because of their faith. They do not believe they will have a child. It is not answered because of their persistence. They have long since stopped praying for God to hear them on this matter. Their faith is good (verse 6) and they are living a God fearing life. But their hope for a child has evaporated. We know this by Zechariah’s disbelief when he is told that they will have a child.
Fascinating. When it appeared that Zech and Betty were not going to have a child their faith handled it very well. As soon as God tells them they will have a child Zech doesn’t believe it.
But this is a lesson about the faithfulness of God. God heard their prayer – long after they prayed it. God often answers our prayers, but He hardly ever respects our time table. Of course, if God had given little Johnny to them years ago it is unlikely that he would have been the John the Baptist that we know about and who was the voice crying in the wilderness for people to prepare a way for the Lord (John 1:19-24).
God’s timing may not be ours, but His is always better. What have you prayed for that has not been answered yet? What have you prayed for in the past that you do not pray for now because it seems certain that it will not be answered? This text does not tell us that if we wait long enough all our prayers will be answered as we wanted them to be. But it does tell us that God knows what He is doing and that it is never a fool’s errand to pray fervently for our needs and even our wants, if they are righteous.
Have faith in a great God. He loves you more than you know. Whatever He does for you is better than what you ask for.