Thursday, October 11, 2007

The prayer of Zechariah

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Luke 1, 2, 3

Luke 1:67-79 (NIV)

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and redeemed His people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David 70 (as He said through His holy prophets of long ago). 71 Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – 72 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant; 73 the oath He swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and to enable us to serve Him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him; 77 to give His people the knowledge of salvation 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising of the sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Good morning!

Can you imagine the joy Zechariah must have felt when his silence was finally broken and he was allowed to praise the Lord God Almighty with his lips for the miracle of his son, John? When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah during his temple duty several months before, he had a difficult time believing the angel’s words. Have you ever questioned God or wondered whether His promise was true for you? Gabriel silenced Zechariah’s lips and he was unable to utter a word until the day of circumcision and naming. Zechariah had all the proof he needed – he held a miracle in his arms.

Zechariah’s prayer is one of my favorite prayers in Scripture. Often overlooked, we skip to the more familiar passages of the Magnificat, prayed by young Mary, and the song of the angels to the Shepherds tending flocks in the fields near Bethlehem, where our Christ was born. The prayer of Zechariah reveals a faith come full circle: that doubts and questions can be answered simply through trusting in His holy Word. There was no doubting that God would redeem His people, just as He promised through the prophets of long ago. He will preserve the holy covenant and rescue those who believe from the enemy. He knew his son would prepare the way of Messiah and would reveal the gift of salvation to those who would listen, repent and believe. Zechariah knew peace. He was in the presence of Almighty God.

I am comforted by this humble servant of God. If Zechariah found the answer to his many questions in his old age, then there is certainly hope for you and me. Sometimes God simply needs to shut my mouth long enough so that He can speak. It is difficult at times to not question the Lord, especially when things seem so unclear. If we look at our human condition, we see conflicts and turmoil boiling over into violent wars. We do not have to look far to see people suffering all around us. There are many who are starving to know the truth. We do our best to understand, and yet, our hearts are filled with questions, anxiety and even fear.

When Zechariah understood and accepted truth, he was literally set free – his tongue was loosed to speak God’s message of hope to the world. He proves that God can use us, at any age, for kingdom work. When will we stop trying to explain the Word and let the Word stand on its own? How long will we question and doubt and live in fear and insecurity, when the truth has already been revealed? Will we choose to step out in faith, accepting that we don’t have to have all the answers today because we have the only answer that truly matters?

May the prayer of Zechariah bless your life today, as you seek a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our kinsman redeemer, healer, and friend.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: greater faith! We can accept His promises, especially in times when we do not always understand. God is asking us to trust Him completely. Will you let go of the doubts that keep you from believing and invite the Lord to live in your heart today?


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