By Chuck Hall
“But the angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.’”(Luke 1:13)
Zechariah was a Jewish priest. He and his wife, Elizabeth, wanted to have children, but Elizabeth was barren. They had prayed for many years, but their prayers were not answered. Now that they were well past childbearing years, it is very likely that they had stopped praying and had accepted the fact that they would die childless. Then, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah through the angel Gabriel, “Zechariah! God has heard your prayer.”
I have read this story of John’s birth announcement (Luke 1:5–25) many times, but this time it was different. The phrase, “God has heard your prayer,” leapt off the page. The Spirit seemed to be saying to me that long after we have stopped praying God still hears the prayers that we once prayed. Even when it seems impossible, our faith is gone and we have given up, remember God has heard your prayer. Yes, the Bible teaches us to persevere in prayer and not give up. However, as this text shows us, sometimes God, in His mercy and according to His divine purposes, answers the prayers we have long since abandoned.
My wife Mary Nell is a musician. To her a piano is much more than a piece of furniture; it is a musical instrument that she plays daily to glorify God. She had a small studio piano, but her dream was someday to own a baby grand. Knowing she could never afford such an expensive instrument, she still prayed for many years asking God to give her a baby grand. Finally, she accepted the fact that this piano was out of her reach, and she stopped praying. Then, even though it had been years since she prayed, God heard her prayer and gave her a baby grand piano! We were reminded, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
I had prayed for thirteen years to go into “full-time ministry.” (That’s what we called it back then.) Nothing happened, and I gave up. But God had heard my prayers, and in 1983, my church sent Mary Nell and me out as their first missionaries! For seventeen years, I dreamed of going to Bible school or seminary. I prayed earnestly, yet it seemed my prayers were not being answered. I stopped asking God to let me to go to seminary. However, God had heard my prayer, and in 1988, I enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary, studied there for two-and-a-half years, and got my masters’ degree in missions!
Is there something for which you have prayed many years and have not received? Is there something you no longer pray about because there seems to be no answer and you have given up? Maybe you have asked for a husband, for children, or for God to work in your son or daughter or give you a better job. It could be anything. I want you to know, God has heard your prayer. Don’t give up. Trust in the Lord and know that all things are possible with God.