Our pastor opened Sunday’s sermon by asking if we had ever prayed for anything which God answered in a way we did not expect.
If we are honest, all Christians have experienced this at one time or another in our walk with Christ. God hears our prayers and He answers our prayers; not always with our “when” or “how”.
Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a child through years of marriage. She was barren; and by the time of the account in Luke, they were both old. The first observation in the sermon was that we should not evaluate the effectiveness of our prayer lives by the quickness of God’s response.
It is hard to keep praying when God delays an answer. But as our pastor reminded us: God’s delays are not His denials. Elizabeth and Zechariah prayed for decades that they would have a child and their prayer would be answered, but not in a way they expected.
We must continue praying when God does not answer. If God has not given an answer, keep praying. God will not be annoyed with you and will not send you a message to stop praying. He will hear you and in His good timing, He will answer.
What have you stopped praying about? Is there something in your life that you have become discouraged about because it appears that God will not answer? The application for you is to keep praying. Persist in prayer.
The application for all God’s children, no matter where we are in our walk with Christ, is to pray. God wants us to pray, our prayers glorify Him. God may delay a response because He knows the way in which He answers will bring Him the most glory and will work for our good. As His children, we should desire that His glory is magnified and maximized.
Another point of application is to believe when God is answering prayer. Zechariah did not believe God was answering their prayer. He said: “how can this be?”, “I am old and my wife is old.”, “I think this message came to the wrong Zechariah!”. As one theologian wrote, “he had his biology right but his theology wrong.”
How many times have you received good news for your prayers, only to turn quickly from praising God to asking yourself when things will go wrong? We have all done this. It is possible for us to believe neither what God says nor the way He answers our prayers.
What area of your life do you not trust, in belief, to God? Is there a way God is working in our church that you are slow to believe or not believing at all?
Acting upon our faith is important. The Bible teaches that whatever is not done from faith is sin. If God has said it, we must believe it and act upon it. He always comes through. He cares for His children and He provides for them.
Advent is about God keeping His promises. He answered the prayer of his faithful servants Zechariah and Elizabeth. He made good on the promises He made in the Old Testament to send the Messiah. After 400 years of silence, he sent the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, who was the special child born to God’s faithful servants. He prepared the people of God for the Messiah!
What promises are you not believing?