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An Unexpected Answer to Prayer

Luke 1:18

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But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

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 said to him, “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.

Luke 1:13, 18-19 NIV

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were old and childless. One day, while Zechariah was serving as a priest, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, announcing the answer to his prayer for a child. I find Zechariah’s response to this unexpected answer to his prayer to be somewhat humorous, although also convicting.

I don’t know whether Zechariah was still praying for a child, or if he had given up hope. But when an angel from heaven came to him and announced that his prayer would be answered, Zechariah responded in doubt. Why did he doubt it? Likely because his prayer had been so long unanswered, and he was so old, that he had given up hope. And not even the presence of an angel bearing unexpectedly good news was enough to reawaken hope.

I find Gabriel’s response to Zechariah to be also somewhat humorous. In particular, it seems like Gabriel was offended that Zechariah didn’t believe him. After all, his response seems to be on the order of “Don’t you know who I am? I am Gabriel. And I hang out with God, who sent me to give you this good news.”

How Would I Respond?

I wonder how surprised I would be if Gabriel appeared to me, bringing an unexpected answer to my prayer. Clearly, his presence would be shocking. But would I doubt his message, as Zechariah did? Or would I respond more as Mary did later on in this chapter?  Do I really believe that God hears and responds to my prayer? Or is my prayer only wishful hoping; not really expecting a response?

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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