MY GIFT FROM GOD AS I WONDER IF MY PRAYERS ARE FLOATING HIGHER THAN THE CEILING “BECAUSE HE BENDS DOWN TO LISTEN, I WILL PRAY AS LONG AS I HAVE BREATH.” PSALMS 116:2
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”
Luke 1:5-7 NIV
Meet my good ole friend Zechariah. I am so thankful God’s Word and His Story is filled with people just like me. People whose faith isn’t what I would call stellar, firm, and rock solid. God’s Word is filled with heroes that need a little somethin somethin to help them along in their faith. They need a little proof. Gideon, Doubting Thomas, and now Zechariah. I love him. I identify with him. I consider him my spiritual grandpa.
Let’s look at how God describes him. First him and his wife were righteous in the sight of God. They observed all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. He was a priest in the temple of the Lord. He was a descendant of Abijah. He was right up there in the spiritual pecking order. The message bible says they enjoyed a clear conscience before God.
The first phrase that describes Zechariah is “belonged to the priestly division of Abijah.” Abijah was appointed priest by the great King David. Abijah was a descendant of Eleazar, the son of the very first high priest Aaron, brother of Moses. To say that Zechariah had credentials is putting it mildly. He and Elizabeth were pillars in the service of the LORD. They should have been esteemed among their peers. But… “But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”
Even with all their goodness and righteousness and clear conscience and spiritual credentials, these two had unanswered prayer. In their world children were seen as God’s reward for faithful service. In those days you would be looked down on if you were childless, especially if you were old age and childless. Elizabeth would have been shunned at the yenta gatherings. Zechariah would have been talked about in each priestly circle. The gossip groups would have gone wild whispering about what sin Elizabeth and Zechariah must have committed that they are now without child. Surely they must have done some great unspeakable thing against the Lord because He is most definitely not answering their prayer. This is what Liz Curtis Higgs writes about the couple in her book “Women of Christmas”
“But they were childless … Luke 1:7
Oh no. Not these two godly souls?
Afraid so. Even with all their goodness and righteousness, sadness had crept into their home. In their world children were seen as God’s reward for faithful service.6 We can guess the desperate questions that threaded through their minds as each year went by without a child in their arms. Are we not faithful enough, Lord? Have we dishonored you in some way?
Whenever they heard the psalmist’s words “the fruit of the womb is a divine reward,”7 Zechariah and Elizabeth must have steeled themselves, hiding their pain, even as they avoided sidelong glances from their neighbors.”
Excerpt From: Liz Curtis Higgs. “The Women of Christmas.” WaterBrook Press, 2013-09-17. iBooks.
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As I read that exerpt my ears perk up because I feel as if the Lord is speaking right to me. Just the other night I wondered if my prayers were floating higher than the ceiling. I have asked the question, “Lord do I have any unconfessed sin. Am I not faithful enough? Have I dishonored you in some way?” Some days I do let my enemy into my thoughts. I hear the half truths, “You did mess up. Let me remind you of all the ways.” I let my enemy make me forget the healing power of God’s grace. I hear, “This is why you have unanswered prayer.” I forget the promise, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousnesss.” I seem to think God answers my prayer based on my works. I forget He hears every cry of the brokenhearted. I seem to do this every time it feels like God is just not answering my prayer. “Really God? Really? What must I do to get you to listen to me?” The answer, “Nothing. Nothing at all. Do you trust me? Really, do you trust I love you with a love so great I sacrificed My Only Son for you?” That is the question My God asks of me after I ask all my selfish questions.
And that is the first lesson I learn from my ole friend Zechariah. If this righteous devout man and his wife with the great spiritual credentials even had seemingly unanswered prayer, well that brings me great hope. Again I use the optimum word here. I think it will be my buzzword for this whole month. “Seemingly, Seem.” Seem – give the impression or sensation of being or having a particular quality. What seems to me to be apparent truth, God says,”What appears to be truth in your realm is not what is truth in My Realm. And My Truth is the Ultimate Truth.” What Zechariah perceived as unanswered prayer was truly God’s “Wait answer.” His “perfect timing” answer. His “exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask think or imagine” answer.
What in your life seems like an unanswered prayer? Read all of Zechariah’s story in Luke 1 and see if there is not a promise in there for you also.