Summary: How can I move forward when my prayers go unanswered?
How to Wait on a Miracle
Have you ever asked God for something, something good and acceptable, something that seemed like a proper request that He could honor if He simply chose to do so, and then found yourself waiting indefinitely? Quite often, it seems like God’s timetable is completely different than our own and there seems to be no explanation for it.
In the opening pages of Luke, we find an older couple who had lived with this question for years. Their request of God had been simple—grant us a child. It’s a prayer that most every married couple has prayed at one time or another. But for some reason, God had remained silent on this issue for Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Today, we have the benefit of hindsight, but they didn’t. Today, we can look back at the OT and see the parallel. There we find another older couple—Abraham and Sarah—praying for a child. And to further confuse them, God even reveals an incredible purpose for their lives—
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
In all of the Bible, these are the only two couples that are childless and too old to have children. And they both are blessed with children that powerfully illustrate how God is faithful to His promises.
Zechariah’s name means “Yahweh remembers.” God always remembers. Every prayer that went seemingly unanswered, God remembers. Every moment when you felt like the heavens were strangely silent, God remembers. That’s the testimony of Zechariah today: Don’t give up on your miracle—God has not forgotten you.
How do I move forward when my prayers go unanswered?
1. Consider how God is preparing your life.
In verses 5-10, we read that Zechariah was a
priest. He and Elizabeth are called “upright” people who obeyed all of God’s commandments “regularly and blamelessly.” Yet, they were childless.
For Jews, the absence of children was seen as a reproach—evidence of God’s judgment on a person’s sin. How hard it must have been for Zechariah, a spiritual leader in Israel, and Elizabeth, to keep on obeying God, keep on remaining consistent in their faith, and still bear the sentence of a life unacceptable. When you are doing all that God has asked you to do, and He still doesn’t respond to your prayers, that’s hard. But they press on.
It gets to the day that Zechariah is chosen by the casting of lots to burn incense in the temple. There were about 18,000 priests who regularly served at the temple, but only one could go into the Holy Place and burn incense as they prepared for the sacrificial offering. As a priest, you would only get the chance to do this once in your life.
Zechariah didn’t know it, but God had been planning this day from the very beginning. Zechariah and his family were going to be a part of God’s plan to offer salvation to the world. What seemed like unexplainable silence was really God’s work of preparing Zechariah and Elizabeth for this incredible day.
The point is, when God seems to remain silent, when your prayers seem to go unanswered, it’s not because God is asleep on the job. Take time to consider all that He is doing to prepare you for His answer. Before God works on your problems, He wants to work on you.
· Noah works on building the ark for nearly 100 years before it ever started raining.
· Abraham waits 25 years after God promises him a son before Isaac is born.
· Moses herded sheep in the wilderness for 40 years before God spoke to him at the burning bush.
The list goes on and on. In all of those
situations, did God just forget what He was doing? Did He get distracted? No. He was working on each person, preparing them for what He had planned. While your waiting on your miracle, God is working on you.
2. Comprehend how God speaks to your life.
As I said, this was a once-in-a-lifetime
experience for Zechariah. There were probably a myriad of emotions he was dealing with. On the one hand, there was the excitement that came from having this incredible honor that he had waited on all of his life. On the other hand, there was probably a holy fear of what it meant to minister in God’s presence. In Leviticus 10 we read about Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, and how they were immediately put to death by God because they performed this ritual in a prideful manner. He probably rehearsed his actions over and over in his mind with the prayer that he would emerge from the Holy Place alive.