TEXT: Luke 1:13-17
13 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.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 158 messages in this series.
This is message #159 titled, Suddenly, Prayer is Answered (Part 2)
The story of the angelic answer to the prayer of Zacharias and Elisabeth is a great encouragement to many of us who have been praying for something for a long time, but have yet to receive an answer. Zacharias’ shock and subsequent disbelief at the news that he and his wife would have a son seem to indicate that he had all but given up on the request. But, the angel’s words — “thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son” — remind us of an important truth: that God never forgets any of our prayer requests. We may give up on asking for something, but if it is something good and something that we truly desire, God may see fit to grant that request even if we have ceased asking for it.
R.C.H. Lenski said, “The request referred to by the angel is the one that had been made [by Zacharias and his wife] during the years when childbirth was yet humanly possible. It is quite proper that [the words] ‘was heard’ refer to that time also. Prayers are often effectively heard by God long before he sends the answer. Zacharias had long ago stopped praying for a child because, like any godly Israelite, he did not think that he had a right to ask a miracle of God.”
On that day, when Zacharias was fulfilling his duty in the Temple, he was not thinking about his personal prayer request being answered. But God was. And God answered his prayer in a sudden and remarkable way. We are reminded that a request delayed is not a request denied. We may indeed have to wait a long time for a prayer to be answered. However, the reason for the wait may not be, as is often suggested, that the person praying is not ready to receive the answer. But, rather, that God has a much greater answer to the prayer than the person praying could ever imagine.
Zacharias, like all devout Jews, often prayed for the coming of the Messiah. It is highly likely that even as he was in the Holy Place, offering incense and praying for his people, that he pleaded with God to send the Messiah soon. Unbeknownst to him, God was planning to not just answer that prayer, but to involve Zacharias and his family in the arrival of the Messiah. Listen to the rest of the angel’s proclamation: “Thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
God had a much bigger plan for Zacharias’ son than Zacharias and his wife could have ever imagined. They just wanted to be parents to a little boy. They just wanted a descendant to carry on the family name. But God was planning for their child to be the forerunner to the Messiah. If their prayer request had been answered 30, 40, or 50 years earlier when they wanted it to be answered, they would have missed out on the tremendous blessing of being involved in the beginning of the ministry of the Son of God on Earth. Not only would their son bring them joy and gladness, but he would bring rejoicing to the hearts of many others. On top of that, he would be dedicated to God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and destined to carry out prophetic work in the spirit and power of the great prophets of the Old Testament such as Elijah.
Don’t despair when the answer to your prayer request is delayed. God might have put you on hold in order to give you a much greater blessing down the road. You think you should be married by now? The perfect spouse that God has for you might not be ready for another five years. Just wait and keep on praying. You think you should have a certain kind of job right now? The perfect job situation that God wants you to have might not be ready for a few more months. Just wait and keep on praying.
In the meantime, get busy serving God in whatever capacity is available to you. Don’t give up on God just because it might seem as though He is not answering your prayer. Zacharias’ prayer was answered as he was in service to God. Warren Wiersbe said, “You have probably noticed that God often speaks to His people and calls them while they are busy doing their daily tasks. Both Moses and David were caring for sheep, and Gideon was threshing wheat. Peter and his partners were mending nets when Jesus called them. You can’t turn an eighteen wheeler unless it is moving. When we get busy, God starts to direct us.” Don’t sit on your hands as you wait for God to answer your prayer. That kind of attitude indicates that you only want God to do something for you, but you don’t want to do anything for Him. Yes, God expects us to pray; but He also expects us to be busy while we wait.
Always remember that while you are busy for God, God may be busy for you — working behind the scenes to answer your prayer request in a manner that is far beyond anything you could imagine.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.