Sunday, October 9, 2016


October 10, 2016
Luke 1:13  "But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.'"

Zechariah was an extremely common name in the Bible.  It was as common a name as Steven or John, today.  If I asked you about a famous Zechariah in the Bible, maybe a couple of you would recall one of the first few kings of Israel.  But there was one Zechariah who should be on the forefronts of our minds.  In the New Testament, there was a Zechariah who was a priest.  He wasn't THE high priest, but served in the temple and was on rotation to serve as a priest when a priest was needed.  Almost nothing is noteworthy about this guy except of few things we can surmise.  We can assume, from the Scriptures surrounding his story, that he was a devout man of God, a fervent prayer, and a fantastic role model as a father.  Who was this guy?  He was the father of John the Baptist.  What should make him such a role model to you and me was his steadfastness in prayer.

The Bible does not record any of his prayers except that an angel of the Lord appeared before him and said one of his prayers had been answered.  The prayer request was that his wife would conceive a child.  Remember, John the Baptist's mother was Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Elizabeth was noted as being advanced in age for her years, beyond typical child bearing years.  Let's pretend, for all intents and purposes, that Elizabeth in modern terms would be considered in her fifties.  The Angel of the Lord appeared before Zechariah and told him his prayer for Elizabeth to bear a child had been answered.  You need to take a guess how long Zechariah probably prayed that prayer, how many years, over and over again he prayed that prayer.  My guess is he prayed that prayer close to 30 years, continually, before the angel appeared before him to answer his prayer request.  There is a specific term you can use to describe Zechariah's kind of prayer.  The word is petition.

Scripture says we should bring our requests to the Lord, though prayer and petition.  If you look up the word for petition in the original Aramaic, it means to humbly beg constantly, desperately, and on-going.  The Aramaic word defines Zechariah's prayer as that kind of prayer when the angel appeared to him and said his prayer had been answered.  You could say Zechariah's petition had been answered, after all it had been many, many years of the same prayer over and over again.  Zechariah did not give up on the prayer despite the seemingly mute reply even after a decade or two.  Notice I didn't say after a day or two of prayer; I said after a decade or two.  Zechariah is an example of fervent patient prayer of petition, humbly begging.  While begging isn't a polite term to describe the petition, it is carried in the meaning of the original Hebrew.

The term petition contains more meaning than only humbly begging over and over again.  Petition additionally means all sorts of prayers, any type of lifting up the request to the Lord.  It is safe to understand that a petition-type prayer would involve other people.  I doubt Zechariah's prayer was limited to just Zechariah.  I can guarantee He shared such a deep longing to his closest companions, fellow priests, and they also prayed.  I can safely say Mary, the mother of Jesus, was aware of Zechariah's prayer request for Elizabeth, and that she most likely prayed, too.  Mary, being a servant of the Lord, would have lifted up prayer for others.  This can be understood from the angel who appeared to Mary and referenced Mary's acknowledgment of Elizabeth's barrenness.  You couldn't be aware of someone's deep need and be considered a sincere servant without praying for others.  Mary was probably a part of Zechariah's petition.

You, too, have a sincere prayer request and I urge you to patiently and continually bring that prayer to the Lord, sharing it with your trusted friends and allowing them to pray with you in that request.  Don't pray once or twice, then figure the answer isn't coming.  Pray patiently EVERY single day.  So many Christians give up on the prayer request after a week or two.  Christian, it's time to pray with petition, allowing the Lord's grace to carry you until the answer is a yes or a no from the Lord.  If you've given up on a prayer request and feel it isn't worth it, yet you'd like help in petition, reply to this devotional e-mail with your first name and request, and I will gladly join you in the petition.  Be like Zechariah; learn from his example, his patient example of petition. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Luke 1, Phil 4:4-7

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