When Prayer Seems Unanswered

Have you ever felt like your prayer was going unanswered? Maybe an on-going situation or need for God’s provision? I remember a particular time in my life when I really wondered what the silence meant. I struggled to reconcile the promises of scripture with what appeared to be no response from God, but in reality, He was working things out all long. I just couldn’t see it until later. 

There is a beautiful story in the Bible of two people who also struggled with the silence…Zacharias and Elizabeth. Luke 1:5-25 tells the story. They bore daily shame as a childless couple, living in a culture that taught having no children was due to sin. Luke mentions that they were both righteous before God (v.6) and had prayed for a child (v.13). What’s more, it must have been additionally tough to have a name like “Zacharias” meaning “Jehovah has remembered again”. 

I’m sure in the middle of those days, they experienced much anxiety over what it all meant. Then it happened…an angel appears to Zacharias and gives him the incredible news that Elizabeth would bare a child in her old age. What a great reminder of how God works! Simply put, He does things as He chooses and in His time. Here are three encouraging things I see in the story: 

  • Heavenly Activity is Going on Regardless of our Awareness – Luke 1:6 says they were not only righteous, but walked blamelessly regarding commandments and ordinances. They were being observed daily from God’s perspective and their prayer was most certainly not forgotten, it was heard! While they faithfully went about their daily life, God was working a plan. We often see that in scripture, like Moses herding sheep while the fire in the bush began to glow bright or a man counting change at his tax collecting booth as Jesus walks up.
  • Silence Doesn’t Equal No – The natural conclusion drawn from childlessness would have been, “God doesn’t want us to have children.” In truth, He didn’t want them to have children…yet. There was a powerful ingredient being slowly sprinkled into the life of Zacharias and Elizabeth…time. Without time, two healthy people having a child would be routine, but old people…now you have the makings of a miracle. Gabriel mentions that they would be joyful, glad and many others would rejoice with them (Luke 1:14). And what a celebration I’m sure they had!
  • It was Worth the Wait – John was no ordinary baby. Not only was he special in the timing of his birth, he was special in spiritual power. The Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb (v.15) and grew to be a firebrand in the order of Elijah (v.17). Imagine the pride of being Mom and Dad to the action hero bridging the gap from the Old Testament to the New. There had been 400 years since the previous prophet and suddenly they were chosen to raise the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah! My guess is they were sitting on the front row during his first sermon…yelling amen! 

So if you find yourself wondering about the silence, remember, God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Spend time prayerfully examining your way before Him and trust His perfect timing (Psalm 62:8, 75:2). 

Series: Thoughts on Luke – Lesson 1:5-25

About cchrisholland

...husband, dad, pastor, teacher, and chronic day-dreamer
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