This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.

Luke 1:11-17

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 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. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."


"Your prayer has been heard." (13)

It can be heartbreaking and discouraging to pray for something for a long, long time and to not get the answer you hoped for.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed to God for a son, but they hadn't had one. I imagine that at this stage, when they were 'advanced in years (1:7), they had probably given up on the prayer a long time ago.

What have you prayed for for a long time?

Is there something that you have given up praying for?

When we feel that we can pray no more and we are so completely discouraged it is common to sometimes begin - in the smallest of ways - to doubt the love and care of God for us.

But God always loves, and His care never stops.

I imagine that Zacharias' reaction of the angel was confusion. He probably thought "What are you talking about? I didn't pray for a son. We're old and I gave up on that prayer a long time ago. I'm now praying for the salvation of Israel. That God would send a Messiah."

He was certainly not expecting that God would answer both his prayers at once, and use his miracle baby to be part of sending the Messiah!

On this side of history, we know that God hears our prayers. We know from history and experience that God can answer our prayer and break into the present. We also know the end of the story, that though every prayer isn't answered as we'd like this side of heaven. We can also be sure of God's presence with us in the tension of unanswered prayer.

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