The 50 Year Prayer

prayer, Luke 1, faithfulnessHave you ever prayed for someone or something that you knew was God’s will but it didn’t seem like your prayers were being answered?  Perhaps you prayed for weeks or months or even years and you saw no outward sign that your prayers were having any effect at all.  How did you react to that situation?  What’s the right answer, for a prayer than seems unanswered?

I believe that God answers all prayers that are prayed in His will.  Sometimes we see the outcome, and if that happens, consider it a blessing and treasure it.  But perhaps much more often God uses our prayers and answers them in ways that we will never see on this side of eternity.  In this, it is our faithfulness that counts and our continued trust and reliance on God’s perfect will and perfect plan.  Even when we can’t see His hand working, we must trust His heart and continue to pray and do what He has asked us to do.

And then there are times when we have all but given up on a prayer but God shows up and answers it in a way that is far above and beyond anything that we could have hoped for or imagined.  In the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, Zechariah had such an experience.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.  Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.  But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Luke 1:5-7 (NIV)

Luke is setting up the story here and he makes sure to let us know that Zechariah and Elizabeth were good, righteous people but that they were childless (which carried a social stigma and some degree of shame during this time period) and that they were very old.  In other words, they were both well past the age at which conception and healthy child birth would have been possible.

 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,  for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Luke 1:11-15 (NIV)

And then something amazing happens.  As Zechariah is going about his priestly duties an angel appears to him and tells him that not only has his prayer been answered but that God is going to gift them with a son that “will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord”.  As we know, Zechariah and Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus and eventually baptized Jesus.  To say that God used John the Baptist in a mighty way would be putting it lightly!

But let’s back up for a moment.  How long do you suppose that Zechariah had been praying for a child?  I think it’s fair to say that this prayer began when he and Elizabeth were married and continued through what would have been the normal child bearing years and it is very likely that this prayer was at least 50 years old.  I also believe that Zechariah, being human, had probably not prayed this particular prayer in quite sometime.  Even as he never gave up on God he gave up on this particular prayer because he couldn’t imagine how God would answer it so many years later.  But answer it, God did, because 50 years and physical limitations are no barriers at all to Him who loves us so!

And don’t you know that Elizabeth and Zechariah rejoiced to have their prayer answered after so many years and marveled at what God had done for them?  I believe if you could ask them, they would tell you that it was worth the wait.

I hope you can see that there’s a strong lesson here for all believers.  God’s not through yet and He’s not finished with us either.  Keep on praying and keep on being faithful and get ready to be amazed.  His answer to our prayers will be perfect and will come at exactly the right time.

 

 

What Keeps You Going?

promise, faithful, obedienceWhat keeps you going?  What motivates and inspires you, day after day?

For me, it is God’s love.  God shows His love to me in many ways but nowhere moreso than the promises found in His word.  These promises encourage and lift me up every time I read them and today I want to share a few of my favorites with you.

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)  

God loves us so much that he rejoices over us with gladness and singing!  His love for us is powerful, amazing and happy.  Not only that, He is in our midst and He has come to save us!  Praise the Lord for his marvelous love and His everlasting song.

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.  (Revelations 3:12)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains verse 12 beautifully: “Christ promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought the good fight, and came off victorious.”  We are to monuments to the everlasting grace of God and even now God is sculpting us and shaping us into His beautiful creation.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:4-7)

Philippians Chapter 4 contains some of my favorite verses in the entire new testament.  In these verses we are instructed to be thankful, be gentle and to tell God all of our cares.  And if we follow these instructions then we are promised that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.  The peace of God is a treasure of the highest magnitude and if more of us sought it on a daily basis then this world would be a far better place.  Praise God for granting us His peace!

17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  (1 John 2:17)

Sometimes it is easy to forget that most of what we can see and touch in this world is temporary and fading.  God’s word cautions us against falling in love with the things of this world but also gives a promise to the person who instead focuses their life on doing God’s will:  the one who does the will of God lives forever.

Ultimately, God promises us so very much and asks us only for our love and devotion in return.  Let His love and His promises envelop you on a daily basis and stand firm in your faith.