Luke begins his record of the good news of Jesus by writing about the conception of John the Baptist. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were both righteous in the eyes of God. They were both very old but had remained childless. Elizabeth was unable to conceive. In their society, barren women bore a lot of shame! Naturally, she and Zechariah must have been praying a lot for a child, although seemingly to no avail.
On one occasion, while offering incense in the Temple, Zechariah had an angelic visitation. The angel said, “your prayer has been heard” and told him God would give him a son whom He would greatly use (Luke 1:13-17). However, Zechariah did not believe the angel’s word that God was going to answer his prayer and give him a son (v20). Now before you throw a stone at Zechariah, consider if you yourself would be sceptical under similar circumstances.
I believe that Luke wanted to teach us a lesson about prayer here. After praying for so long and still having no child, Zechariah had stopped believing his prayer would be answered. But, the truth is: God had heard his prayers and was planning to answer them.
Luke wanted us to know that God takes our prayers seriously! He hears our prayers and will do something about them, even if we don’t see it happening before our eyes. God’s answer may come later than we wish, but will surely come “at their appointed time” (v20b).
God’s answer to our prayers may not even be according to our wish, but often exceeds what we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I doubt that when Zechariah and Elizabeth were praying for a child, they had ever imagine that God would give them a son as great as John.
God’s answer to our prayers will accomplish His purposes and plans which far exceed our own needs and desires. In this case, through their prayers, the Lord was preparing for Jesus a forerunner (Luke 1:16-17). And through John, He was beginning to roll out His redemption plan for mankind. This is far greater and far more important than merely giving Zechariah an offspring (Luke 1:13) or merely lifting Elizabeth from disgrace and shame (Luke 1:25)!
Notice that the angelic visitation happened when the people were praying (Luke 1:10). We don’t know what they were praying, but we know they wondered why Zechariah stayed so long in the Temple (Luke 1:21). They were clueless that God was launching His plan to save mankind though their prayers! Their prayers accomplished God’s purposes in a way that far exceeded what they had asked for in terms of personal and national needs!
In this Season of Fasting during our Year of Intercession, let’s know for certain that even when we don’t see God’s answers to our prayers in the time or manner we wish for, God hears our prayers and is working out His greater purposes and plans in response to our prayers! The lyrics of the song, Waymaker, states, “Even when I don’t see it, You’re working.” So, keep on praying and interceding!
Monday: Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Tuesday: Luke 11:9-10
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Wednesday: Luke 11:13
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Thursday: Luke 18:7-8
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Friday: Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)
‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Saturday: James 1:5-6
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Sunday: 1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
All scriptures are quoted from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.
By Pastor Yong Tai Tong