Ever wanted something really, really badly? Ever pray for it for a long time? Perhaps years? Yet the outcome you sought just never seemed to happen?
A man named Zechariah did. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had wanted a child for a long time. Elizabeth was unable to have children, though, and so they had sadly succumbed to the solemn fact that they would never have the privilege of being parents.
One ordinary day, Zechariah was visited by an angel while he was working in the temple. The angel revealed to him that his prayer would indeed be answered. He was going to be a dad! Not only that — his son would be a very important tool in God's work…a forerunner of the Messiah, in fact!
You'd imagine Zechariah would jump for joy at this revelation, wouldn't you? After all, he'd prayed for it for years. The couple's dream was finally going to come true! But he didn't. He stammered. He stuttered. He blinked his eyes in disbelief, and immediately doubted the angel's words. He questioned the logic and second guessed the heaven–sent message.
The angel replied: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
Did you know that Jesus is amazed at our unbelief? (Mark 6:6) It is somewhat foolish of us, isn't it, to pray earnestly for something all the while doubting deep down that it will really happen, feeling as if our words and pleas are hollow and silent?
Jesus promises us that He will not forget our cries. He knows the deepest desires and strongest wishes of our hearts. He says repeatedly that He will answer us…even if it's not in the exact way we perceive it should be answered…or within the time frame we've established.
When we pray, we should do so with faith, remembering that our “times are in His hands” (Psalm 31:15a). And above all, we should seek to be jubilant and grateful when He answers us, not dumbfounded and surprised.