But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. Luke 1:13
Both divine command and prophecy, the angel informed the priest that he would have a son and what to name him. Which is a good thing because Bubba the Baptist doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Where did this rather startling announcement come from though?
Luke lets us know that Elizabeth and Zacharias were middle aged or greater and that they had been given no children to bless their lives. For however long he had done it, Zacharias had prayed for a child but the time had not come until later in life. So, what was it about this prayer that brought the angel running to tell Zac the good news? Perhaps just the timing of the thing? Certainly God is in charge of the timing of all things, but we might know at least one thing that Zac's prayer was not - selfish.
Say Zac went into his closet and prayed something like this:
"Lord, grant me a son that I might show those no good bumpkins at the city gate that I still got it!"
Probably not a prayer that would be rising up before God like a sweet incense. However, what if Zac got down for 40 or 50 years and prayed that his wife might be blessed with a child for her comfort? Or maybe a conversation with God of how much Elizabeth had been hurt by the talk of the other old ladies who were now grandmas and great grandmas, and how they looked down on her in so many ways? Zacharias had perhaps learned over many years to pray selflessly and generously, and those prayers are a sweet incense before God.
The birth of John, who would go before the Lord Jesus like Elijah, came about with a prayer. What prayer might you and I speak in our closet that would go before the return of our great Lord?Have a prayerful Christmas!