LUKE 1:13-14: “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
OBSERVATION: One of the great truths we discover in the Christmas story is – God Answers Prayer! The nation of Israel had been praying for the coming of their Messiah. Zacharias had been praying for his wife Elizabeth to be able to conceive and have a child. Both prayers were being answered in their own time, and in God’s sovereignty. This account focuses on the answer to Zacharias’ prayer and it gives us insight into both the power of prayer and the faithfulness of God.
In order to understand the impact of this story we need to jump forward a bit. When Gabriel revealed to Zacharias that he would have a son, and Zacharias doubted, asking Gabriel for a sign, Zacharias was told he would be mute until the day of his son’s birth. From this we can suggest that it is possible that Zacharias had been praying for Elizabeth in the past, but probably was not actively praying for her when he was ministering in the Temple. If he was, why would he have been so surprised when he received the answer? Yet, even though Zacharias may not have been actively praying at the moment, he had prayed for his wife – and the Lord had heard his prayer! And, no doubt, this concern was still carried heavily on his heart as he went through each day, and continued to be on his heart this day as he ministered in offering the incense which represented the prayers of Israel.
Jesus said – “Your Heavenly Father knows what you need, even before You ask Him.” This does not mean that we are not to ask, for after Jesus said this He taught us how to pray. What it does mean is that the Lord hears our prayers and watches over the concerns of our heart! He hears our cries, whether audible or silently carried upon our hearts. He is faithful to watch over our prayers – and He will answer! He is always faithful. The answer may not come in our time, or when we are expecting it, but if we are praying according to the will of God – it will come!
To be honest, we are all like Zacharias. I don’t think Zacharias was a man of little faith, he was just a man. We all deal with nagging doubt, and when the Lord does answer we are often surprised. It is not that we do not believe He can do what we ask, it is that we struggle with our humanity and wrestle with our doubts. Yet, the Lord does not withdraw His faithfulness from our lives. II Timothy 2:13 says – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” These promises and assurances are not for selfish pursuits, but they are for Kingdom prayers! Zacharias was praying for Kingdom purposes (whether he knew it or not). When Zacharias was praying that his wife would be able to have a child, he was praying for the benefit of his wife – but God was answering for the benefit of all mankind!
Lord, this Christmas season, rekindle our faith and expectation. Let us come before You anew with the prayers and concerns of our heart knowing that You are Faithful – and that You will answer our prayer! The Christmas story is filled with fulfillment of promises long awaited – but fully realized by Your sovereign hand. Thank you for Your great Faithfulness. In Jesus Name!