19th December – Luke 1:67-80
What do you expect when you pray?
A person I know recently had a stroke, and now has difficulty speaking. She is person who loves language and the nuances of the meaning of words, who enjoys poetry and literature. So it doesn’t take much imagination to understand her frustration.
Here we have Zechariah, the husband of Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth. He had prayed for a son, but because he didn’t believe God could answer this prayer was unable to speak for at least nine months. Did he become frustrated, angry or perplexed? Maybe at times. God had told him some amazing things about this boy to be born and I like to think that he spent some of that time mulling over what God had said, spending some quality time with God and gradually understanding what God had in store for his son. We are told that Zechariah had reached a place where the Holy Spirit could fill him and he spoke God’s words without hesitation once he regained his speech.
Without the knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Zechariah was certain that sin can be forgiven and that forgiveness is permanent. God’s mercy is greater than his condemnation of our wrong doing. There is the promise that those living in darkness will have light and that we can experience peace with God.
Did Zechariah have any inkling of how this would pan out? This prayed for, longed for and much loved son, left home to live in the desert. The message he preached of the coming kingdom, of God’s mercy and God’s forgiveness caused division. Many people flocked to hear him and responded, their hearts prepared for the coming of the Messiah, but he was disliked by the religious and political leaders and in the end lost his head in a gruesome death.
God answers prayer, when we dare to ask, but not always in comfortable ways. Prayer draws us close to Him and puts us in a place where God can bless us. What will you dare to ask God for this Advent?
Heavenly Father, we thank you that whatever our disability, limitation or ‘dumbness’, we can come to you. And if this helps us to spend quality time with you, we want to make the most of it. Help us to get a handle on the importance of forgiveness because it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give us. It brings light into dark places and gives us the chance to make our peace with you, with others and with ourselves.