The angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.
Zechariah and Elizabeth may well have stopped praying for a child some years before Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple. I picture the two of them, fresh into their marriage, praying that God would bless them with children someday. I imagine their prayers became more intense as the years rolled by and the answer to their prayers appeared to be no. And at some point they probably stopped asking God to give them a baby. At their age, it just didn't look like that would happen. But then one day, when they were well along in years, an angel came to tell Zechariah that God had heard his prayer. Elizabeth would have a baby. Imagine that! Prayers from years earlier continued to echo around God's throne. This is great encouragement for any of us who may be thinking God hasn't heard our prayers in the past. Even if we think the answer has been a definite no, it might instead be Not yet or Not in the way you expect Still, we know we must ask with pure motives and in line with God's will (James 4:3; 1 John 5:14). Are we listening for God's possible answers? Zechariah couldn't believe his ears when he heard God's answer through the angel. So for the next nine months he would be mute. Perhaps the silence gave him an opportunity for deeper conversations with God.
Thank you, Lord, for hearing every one of our prayers. Give us patience as we wait for you to show us how you will answer them. In the name of Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen.
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