Have you ever given up on a dream? We all have to in some way, shape, or form. We lift our prayers to heaven, asking God to make our dreams come true, but as time moves on and our prayers seem to go unanswered, we convince ourselves that it was not meant to be. Whether it is because we have aged or we do not have the technical prowess, mechanical skills, or academic talents to achieve our dream, there comes a time when we give up and yield to what we accept as the realities of life. The Bible gives us an excellent example of one such person who had long since given up on his dream to have a son; his name was Zachariah.
Zachariah was a priest, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a descendent of Moses’s older brother Aaron. Both Zachariah and Elizabeth were model representatives of the orthodox Jewish faith. One year, Zachariah was chosen by lot to serve as priest before God by entering the temple to burn incense on the altar in the holy place. It was a distinguished honor, one that may come only once in a man’s life or even not at all because choosing was done by lot. Biblical history records that while Zachariah was performing his duty, an angel of the Lord appeared, which caused Zachariah to become gravely concerned.
“But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth.15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. Zachariah replied, “Zechariah asked the angel, “How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in her years.”Luke 1:12-15;18
You can read in the text that Zachariah has long since relegated himself to the idea that he and Elizabeth were too old to have a child, and there lies the problem; Zachariah was looking at himself, not God. Even more so, he lacked faith or, simply put, he did not believe he would have a son. How many times have we followed this same or similar pattern in life to a point where we gave up on our dreams, which is to say we gave up on God? Probably more times than we wish to recall, but let us not miss the importance of what the angel said to Zachariah. The angel said, “Your prayer has been heard.”
God always hears and answers the prayers of His people. Our problem is, we often do not like the answer when it is not an immediate yes. In Zachariah’s case, his prayer was not answered with a no, but with a wait. The Lord had a plan in motion for the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth, just like He has a plan in motion for my life, your life, and for everyone who follows Him. Because Zachariah did not believe the good news given by the angel, the Lord took his voice from him, and it remained so until what the angel said had come to pass. That makes for an interesting point of self-ponderance in that what did we miss out on when we did not believe the Lord would hear and answer our prayer.
Well, history further records that Zachariah and Elizabeth did indeed have a son named John, one whom Jesus would later say that “among those born of women there is no one greater than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28). For the more significant part of their lives, Zachariah and Elizabeth perhaps thought God had forgotten about them or was displeased with them somehow. When, in fact, they were an instrumental part of God’s plan to usher in the forerunner to the coming of our Savior and Lord, the birth of our Messiah, Jesus, who is the Christ. It presses the point that everyone born again in Christ Jesus has a role in God’s greater plan for humanity and the coming of His eternal kingdom.
The key for us is to remain faithful in the knowledge that God hears and will always answer our prayers. We must accept that the answer will come in His timing, His way, and according to His will. Anything contrary to that formula is a falsehood because we sometimes believe God needs our help, and so we take matters into our own hands, saying, “God, I got this, look at me go!” Yep, in the wrong direction too. We must remain patient and trust the Lord with our prayers, and even when His answer is no, we must rejoice, knowing that God has something even more extraordinary in store for us.
That is the lesson Zachariah learned somewhat the hard way, but in the end, what a blessing the Lord bestowed on Zachariah and Elizabeth. Therefore, let us remain steadfast in our faith and look ahead with confidence knowing that God has not forgotten about us, nor has He ignored our prayers, for every prayer will always be answered in His timing, His way, according to His will. When we think about it, why would we want anything less?