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But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. Luke 1:13

Old Zechariah and his wife had been praying for years. They were a godly couple, most likely seen often in the temple. Zechariah was a priest and, as a result, had to be performing his duties at the Temple on a regular basis. I have a feeling Elizabeth was the kind of wife who showed up on those days to pray, worship, interact with friends and travelers and support her husband.

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth most likely prayed for many things and many people over the years. But two prayers were on both of their hearts. One was for Messiah. The long awaited one. The one who would come to rescue them from bondage. It had been hundreds of years since ‘the promise’ repeated often by God’s prophets of old. Then, silence. Four hundred years of silence! All of Israel longed for the deliverance of Messiah.

From eternal standards, the second prayer on this couples heart was the prayer for a child. Try as they might, this couple just couldn’t seem to get pregnant. Elizabeth was forced to watch her sisters and other family members give birth. I’m guessing ‘Aunt Elizabeth’ was the kind who gave everyone birthday cards and always had a present for every child under the Christmas tree. (Yep, I know. No Christmas trees but go with me on this.)

Now of course, that prayer was probably buried in the back of their minds, perhaps even forgotten. They were far too old to have children. Oh, sure, Father Abraham and Sara gave birth to a child in their old age. But God doesn’t work that way in just common folk. So Elizabeth was no doubt resigned to being ‘Auntie Liz’ the one with no children. Resigned to the questions, the stares and the stories. Zechariah? Just another obscure priest in the annals of history.

Then the Angel showed up.

You know the story. The Angel promised Zechariah a son, a son he would name John. John. God’s Grace Among Us. Zechariah didn’t believe it and was struck dumb for Elizabeth’s entire pregnancy. Who could really blame him? Who could really expect that God could use someone that old after all these years.

But he did.

Most Bible scholars agree that the prayer Zechariah was praying for was for Messiah because he’d long given up on the idea of the sound of little footsteps across the dirt floor. God had other ideas. God answered both prayers on his heart that day. Long after Zechariah forgot his prayer for a child, God still remembered and answered in his time.

That’s the beauty of God’s love. That’s the power of prayer. Nothing in your past will take away from how God can use you in the future.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that I doubt you in my prayer life. I look at my weak attempts to live for you. I remember all my failings. In my mind I’m convinced that my past will bind your hands. Forgive me for my doubt. Empower me to live in the power of your promises and your prayer. In Jesus name, Amen.

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January 2014
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