What if I told you unanswered prayer may be a sign of God’s favor? You might argue that since biblical days many have taught otherwise. If you’re sick or God has closed your womb, then you’ve fallen from grace.
What if I told you the Bible shows the reverse was true for some of God’s chosen ones?
In the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, one line spoken by Elizabeth, after she became pregnant, speaks volumes about the pain she suffered during her years of unanswered prayer.
‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people’” (Luke 1:25 NIV).
The Jews believed Elizabeth’s barrenness represented God’s punishment for some hidden sin. For decades, Elizabeth, a descendant of the High Priest Aaron and a priest’s wife, felt disgraced among her people. I can imagine her begging God to show her what she had done to lose God’s favor.
We know God’s delay in answering Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayer wasn’t because of His displeasure. But they didn’t know that—until much later.
The Bible describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old” (Luke 1:6-7 NIV).
In their culture, righteous and barren didn’t fit together. What her peers saw as disgrace, was God’s special favor in disguise. He had not overlooked Elizabeth. God had chosen her for a special honor. He wanted her to raise the forerunner of His Son!
Unanswered Prayer Turns to Awesome
When the angel told Zechariah that God had answered his prayer, I picture Zechariah scratching his head. What prayer? Since they were both very old, I’m sure they hadn’t prayed for a child in ages. Listen to the angel’s words:
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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 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. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 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’” (Luke 1:13-17 NIV).
If God had shown Elizabeth His plan when she was young, whose plan do you think she would have chosen? Would she have chosen to fulfill her friends and family’s expectations by having an ordinary child at the expected age? Or would she have chosen to be a part of the miracle of Christmas and wait to bear the son Jesus described as, “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11 NIV)?
Your Unanswered Prayer
Do you have a prayer that has gone unanswered—for decades? Have you felt judged by your peers or forgotten by God because of it? From the perspective of time, we can see God’s plan for Elizabeth was better than her own. Will you trust Him with your desires too? Elizabeth provides one good reason to trust God with your unanswered prayer.From the perspective of time, we can see God’s plan for Elizabeth was better than her own. Will you trust Him with your desires too? #RefreshingFaith #Christmas Click To Tweet
Ideas for Christmas Gifts
Little Faith, Big God —available for preorder
Delightful … I highly recommend Little Faith, Big God for both individuals and families.” ~ Josh McDowell, Christian apologist, evangelist, and bestselling author.
Little Women, Big God —available now
Did you know Jesus’ family tree is full of shady women? These surprising women show the quality of your life is not determined by the size of your problems but by the size of your God.
Women in the Church today are hungry for excellent Bible study material, and this book will be such a blessing to those who use it.” ~ Diane Passno , Bible Teacher, Senior Vice President (Retired), Focus on the Family