“But the angel said unto him, ‘Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John’” (Luke 1:13 – King James Version).
After I accepted Christ I wanted to tell my Grandma Bowes. About seven years before I surrendered to Jesus I had gotten a letter from Grandma while I was in boot camp. In the letter she told me how she was praying for me all the time. At the time it was just what I needed to hear. Boot camp was a tough experience at times and it was comforting to know that someone was praying that things would go easy for me. As it turned out, that things would be easy was not what Grandma was praying for. When I told her I had accepted Christ she said “I have prayed for you every day since before you were born. I prayed you would be saved.” Do the math; I was 25 years, 6 months, and 14 days old when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. That’s approximately 9,319 days (I didn’t count leap years or do it exactly). Actually it was more days than that since Grandma had been praying for me before I was born. Either way, it’s an astounding thing to think of her faithfulness in prayer and her faith that God wanted to do
Zacharias had been praying for a son. How do I know? The angel said “thy prayer is heard” and “Elisabeth shall bear thee a son.” This prayer probably had been issued to God many times for the Scripture tells us that Zacharias and Elisabeth were both “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:6 – KJV). This shows the devotion and faithfulness of Zacharias’ prayer life.
Can the same be said of our prayer lives? Are we willing to pray long and hard? Are we willing to wait patiently on the Lord? The best thing to pray are those things that line up with the will of the Father. That’s what my Grandma did. It’s God will that people be saved and she prayed that I would be saved. That was a prayer that was in the heart of God.
Did Zacharias know that it was God’s will that Elisabeth and Zacharias bear a son? I don’t know. What I do learn from that is that if it is in God’s will He will show us by answering “Yes” to those prayers. It’s obviously NOT in God’s will for me to have a new truck because I have prayed for one and it hasn’t come! I say that in jest, but in seriousness also. Maybe Zacharias had read Psalm 127:3, which says “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (NLT). As an aside: does this mean that people that do not have children are unrewarded or unfavored? NO! People that do not have children have all that God is and that’s enough for anyone! It does mean that the child of Zacharias and Elisabeth was in God’s plan and that He chose to bless them in that way and to answer their prayer in that way.
Another thing that sticks out to me is that the answered prayer came with a command. Zacharias and Elisabeth were told to name their son John. They did just that even though some thought it was strange to not name John after his father (Luke 1:61-63). That called me to examine myself and ask myself “If God answers ‘Yes’ to my prayer, am I willing to do what He says?” Think about that. Hannah prayed for a child and vowed to give the child to the Lord. God answered and gave her Samuel (1 Samuel 1). True to her word, Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord for a life of service. Application: you may be praying for your child or children today, saying “Save my children and make them live for You O Lord.” In response, God MIGHT say “Yes. I will send them to Iraq to be missionaries. You will let them go.” Are we prepared to obey whatever God says in response to our prayers? You may even be praying “Make me like Jesus.” God WILL answer that prayer and say to you “Yes. Bear your cross.” Are you willing to obey Him then?
Our lessons? Pray hard; pray constantly; pray in faith believing God is listening and will act; be prepared to be obedient. Keep praying; don’t give up! God may so “No” to many of your prayers. Be prepared to act in compliance when He says “No” or when He says “Yes.” Whatever the case, keep praying.