Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What prayer have you forgotten?

Have you ever stopped praying for something because there was no answer from God for so long?

If you are like me and you are honest, you have to admit that sometimes some prayers seem too heavy to reach God.

You pray and you wait. You pray and you wait. It goes on until you've almost forgot what you were praying about and why it really mattered.

Acceptance. That's what it's all about, right?

Clearly, God is not going to answer this prayer, so I might as well accept the situation as it is and forget this request.

Maybe not.

Zechariah and Elizabeth provide an example of receiving an answer to a long forgotten prayer.

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How long do you think it had it been since Zechariah and Elizabeth had stopped praying for a child when he heard the news from the angel Gabriel?

Luke describes them as "well along in years." I guess that was Luke's euphemism for "old," or at the very least, too old to have children.

Elizabeth is barren, unable to become pregnant. Both of them were getting the senior citizen discount at the local Matzah King or Olive Hunt. Having a child was the last thing on their mind right now.

But that wasn't always the case.
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer had been heard."
Zechariah is, to use a modern colloquialism, freaking out. He was just selected from among the priest to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. He goes in and sees an angel that tells him his prayer has been heard.

What prayer? The prayers the priests offered up for the forgiveness of their sins and the sins of the people. A prayer for comfort for his wife because she feels disgraced since she is unable to have ... children?

It couldn't be that prayer. Could it?

I mean, he's too old. She's too old. They're both too old and haven't been able to have children. They've already moved past those tears and that pain, or at least they've tried to. They had to stop praying for that a long time ago. It was too difficult for them to even think about.

It couldn't be that one.
"Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John."
What? It was almost too hard to even hear what this angel was telling him. It sounded like the angel said he was going to have a son.

The angel kept talking. He was saying how the boy was going to become a great man and prepare the way for the Messiah. But Zechariah couldn't get past that first part. He's having a son? This can't be right.
"How can I know this? I'm an old man and my wife is well along in years."
Can you hear it in his question?This one can't happen, not now. It's been too long. That prayer was long since forgotten.

That's just it. Zechariah and Elizabeth may have forgotten that prayer, but God hadn't. He was waiting for the perfect time to answer it in accordance with His will.

How often do we give up on prayer requests? Often.

How soon do we give up on prayer requests? Too soon.

Jesus tells us the same thing. We are to keep asking and keep knocking with our requests to the Father (Matthew 7:7 HCSB). In a parable, He praises a widow who pesters a wicked judge until he gives her justice.

Those prayers that seem so heavy to us, the ones that feel like they fall from our lips as soon as we speak them, often times, those are the ones that God delights in answering, but in His perfect timing.

We do not have all the answers. We cannot know exactly when and how God will respond to our prayer requests. But we can know and trust and He is a good God who does respond in a way that is for our good and His glory.

That prayer that you have forgotten may very well be the one that God is about to act on. Don't give up. Trust.

Not in a specific answer that may or may not come, but in a God who is the answer to all of our problems.

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