Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.
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The very first thing the angel says is, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard" (v. 14). What prayer has been heard? No doubt he means the prayer offered many times over the years that God would give them a child. We can hardly understand from our standpoint what it meant in that culture and in that day to be childless. The ancients considered it a cause for bitterest sorrow. As much as we may pray and hope for children today, they felt it much deeper than we do. It would have been easy—and very human—for Zechariah to conclude that at this late date, Elizabeth would never give birth.But let us hear from J. C. Ryle again on this matter:We must beware of hastily concluding that our supplications are useless, and specially in the matter of intercessory prayer in behalf of others. It is not for us to prescribe either the time or the way in which our requests are to be answered. (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Luke 1-10, p. 18).
There will be times for all of us when it seems as if God has pressed the Mute button so that we do not hear from heaven for a long time. In those periods, let us not grow weary but continue to seek the Lord and to pray. If we give up, how will that improve our situation? If we stop praying for loved ones who today are far from God, how will that help them?
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