Summary: In the story of Zechariah we see how God moves in prayer and how even a faithful man can have an unfaithful response.
Luke 1:11-20, “Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘Do no be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel answered, “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.’”
Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents’ house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying at the top of his lungs:
“I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE...”
“I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO...”
His older brother leaned over, nudged him and said, “Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf.”
To which the little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is!”
We think about prayer a lot of different ways. We think about it as asking God for things. We think about it as telling God about our troubles. Sometimes we even think about it as a way to thank God for the things that He does for us. But do we think about prayer as a form of worship? We should because it is. Worship is our all that is within me response to all that God is and does. It is when we take the focus off of ourselves and place it on Him. That is worship and that is part of prayer. We take our hopes, dreams and desires and place them with God. We do so because of who God is. It is an acknowledgement of His power to helps us and of His love that makes Him willing to. Think about it. The creator and sustainer of the universe wants to meet with us.
What an incredible privilege we have to talk to God! We talk a lot about prayer, but let’s start today with a simple definition of what prayer is. Prayer is a solemn request for help or an expression of thanks addressed to God. I highlighted that word solemn because sometimes I think we can overlook that aspect. God calls us friend, but sometimes we act as if we are forgetting who we are talking to.
Today we are going to be looking at a man who received an answer to his prayer and his reaction to that prayer reveals what was really going on in the depths of his soul. I think in retrospect even he was probably surprised. It is one of those moments in life where who you are is really exposed, not just to other people but to yourself. How you handle those times in life will determine a lot of how fast God can transform you into the person He designed you to be.
Last week as we continued our series on worship we talked about obedience. About how when you hear what God is telling you, you need to do what He says. It sounds so basic and fundamental, but often we don’t do it. But when we stop and focus on who He is, it makes sense that we would do what He says. But we don’t because sometimes what He says is hard. Sometimes we act like we know something He doesn’t. Sometimes we just want something so bad, we don’t stop to listen, but we need to. This can happen even to the best of us.
In this case it happened to Zechariah. He was a priest. We read that this event happened when he went into the temple to burn incense to God, while the people were worshipping and praying outside. Zechariah had a position of great influence. The people looked to their priests for leadership. It is a natural thing, this was and is a God appointed position. In this case the people were worshipping outside the temple but Zechariah was inside. They were waiting for him to come out so that they could see what he said. People looked at him as a religious example. The thing is that all of us