Have you ever prayed for something and it just felt that your prayers were hitting the ceiling and falling right back down in your lap? My lap was filled with unanswered prayers in my 20s. Prayers that left me single and longing to find the one that would bring “happily ever after” to my “once upon a time.” Even though I knew God and believed His promises, this one unanswered request left me wondering what I had done wrong to be destined for a life alone.
As I look at Luke 1 this morning, that may just be how Zechariah felt as he and his wife prayed for a child….again …. for years and years.
Zechariah and Elizabeth lived during a time known as “the silent years.” A time when the Jews believed that God’s was no longer speaking.
Amos prophecied that this would indeed happen in Amos 8:11. There he tells God’s people, “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land– not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.”
It had been 400 years since the last prophet, Malachi, had spoken God’s directives to the people… and now… nothing… or so it appeared.
But we must realize that even when God appears to be silent, He is always at work. In Luke 1 we find two people who continued to do God’s work through these years and we are told they were righteous and walked with God, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth.
They had prayed for years and possibly thought what they were asking God would never happen… but one day the silence is broken.
As Zechariah completes his temple duty of offering prayers for the Jewish people, he must of added an addendum to his request, “God… once again I ask… please give us a child.”
As the words fell from his lips, a figure appeared with him in the sacred chamber where no one was allowed except the priest. We are told that Zechariah immediately felt fear and the first “do not be afraid” in the New Testament is recorded.
After years of crying out to God for a child, Zechariah soon discovered that he would be a father to a son, whose name would be John.
God may have appeared absent but, the truth is, God was waiting for just the right time. This moment was all a part of God’s sovereignty and plan. Everything was in place to once again engage His people in the storyline that would bring Jesus into the world.
I realize, looking back, that the answer to my prayers would be part of God’s plan to bring together two very broken people and do an amazing healing in their lives… together.
At times when you pray and it seems you are speaking to a deaf receiver, remember… God is at work. He is putting all the pieces into place in your life to reveal His plan. Don’t step ahead… don’t give up… just rest. Someday you may realize your prayers have been answered in the most perfect way because it is God’s will. For… God has a way of showing up at just the right time!
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. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But 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.