Friday, December 11, 2015

Advent: A Time of Prayers Answered

I was talking with a sister in the Lord the other day, and she was telling me about the goodness of God in her life. God had blessed her with gifts beyond her needs. Jealousy began fighting for the ground to which gratitude and God's glory is entitled. So I began thanking God for the many ways He'd revealed His goodness to us.

I'd always dreamt of a large family. Biologically, we've got a pretty good number, but our spiritual family? I am overcome when I think how much love exists between us -- all of us. I craved a romantic, "soulmate" kind of relationship; I've received that in my husband and the Redeemer who pursues me. Our earnings are meager, but necessary to sustain us, and always enough for the day, enabling me to homeschool, care for my mom, and write -- the things which are most important to me. Blessings completely different from the ones God has given others, but perfectly suited for us. Specific answers to specific prayers.

As I read the beginning of the Christmas story in Luke today, I read these words in Luke 1:5-7:
"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias... His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years."
In verse 13, we read the angel's words to Zacharias:
"Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John."
If you read on, you'll see that Zacharias was more than a little shocked; he did not believe. So this is my question: If Zacharias did not believe when the angel told him he and Elizabeth were going to have a child, what had been his prayer?  "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard..." I guess it's possible Zacharias had been praying, knowing God could accomplish such a thing, but not truly believing God would accomplish such a thing. But I tend to think the prayer of which the angel spoke was something Zacharias had long forgotten. A prayer that sprung so easily from the lips of a more youthful, more hopeful man. A man who had not yet given himself over to the routine of religion, and the safety of simply biding one's time. He was "walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." But this prayer, the prayer for a son, was no doubt a prayer teeming with emotion, a tearful plea from the depths of a younger man's heart. It does not seem to be, the prayer of an elderly priest, one who would not believe or hope even in the presence of a heavenly herald.

The expectation of a Savior, was something the people of Israel had with them for thousands of years; they prayed for His coming. Some had abandoned hope over the years; some refused to believe when He arrived. But in the years leading up to the birth of this Babe in Bethlehem, God had not ever forgotten His promise or the prayers of His people. The same can be said of those of us awaiting Jesus' second appearing. Or awaiting permanent employment. Or awaiting the return of a loved one from overseas. Or awaiting healing after doctors have stopped trying. Or awaiting a spouse. Or awaiting the appearance of a "YES" on a little plastic strip. Or awaiting a parent to return from the despair of mental illness.

This is a season to remember God answers prayers. Even the ones we've chosen to forget.

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