Advent Meditations - God-Focussed Prayers


“But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.’” (Luke 1:13)

 How God-focussed are your prayers? How much do they encompass and reflect the broader, wider, global and eternal perspective? How deeply and intensely do they resonate with God’s redemptive plan and purpose? How agreeable are they to the divine priorities as set out for us by our Lord Himself in His instruction on the pattern and manner of our prayers? (Matthew 6:9-10).

When it was the turn for the aged priest, Zechariah to serve in the temple in Jerusalem, an angel of the Lord appeared to him while he was burning incense, and said, “your prayer has been heard.” What was the nature of this prayer that had been listened to at the throne of grace, and whose answer had now come forth? It is natural for us to assume that the righteous old man had been praying for a son. However, it would be wrong to narrow down his prayer to this personal and family need. In fact, the context suggests that Zechariah and his wife had long resigned themselves to the will of the Lord in this private sorrow of childlessness. So, it is doubtful that he and his wife still felt compelled to pray for a child. The skepticism and unbelief of Zechariah to the angel’s good news confirm this fact (1:18).

“Your prayer has been heard.” Which prayer? I believe that Zechariah must have been praying the unselfish patriotic prayer that God would hasten the coming of the long-looked for Messiah (vv. 13b-17). He must have been praying for the coming of the Messiah and the blessed era of salvation. Zechariah was definitely among those who were “waiting for the consolation of Israel…and the redemption of Israel,” spoken of in Luke 2:25 and 2:38. And is it not highly probable that the chief matter of his prayer could well be expressed by the words of the Psalmist: “Oh that the salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!” (Ps. 14:7).

Dear friends, when we come before the Lord in prayer, we should not be motivated by narrow interests; absorbed by the desire for blessings that are entirely personal – a better job, a husband or wife, a gift of a baby, good health, or indeed provisions of the material necessities of life. These are legitimate needs, and it’s not sinful to ask the Lord for them. But our prayers ought to rise higher than our personal and temporal needs. Zechariah prayed, following our Master’s cue: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and God granted him more than he had ventured to anticipate. He himself becomes the father of the forerunner, who was to prepare the way for the Messiah. God heard the prayer for the dawn of the era of salvation, but also gives the old man the earthly joy of becoming a father.  

There is a great lesson for us here brothers and sister. The prayer of faith has interconnections with the purposes of God that are far beyond our power to estimate. You could have prayed in vain for something from the Lord, but in God’s own programme and timing, He always had in mind, not your personal happiness, but the greater good of multitudes (Lk. 1:14). I am sometimes tempted, and probably you too, to be narrow and self-absorbed in prayer. And I need to be reminded again and again, to have a broader, wider, global and eternal perspective in my prayers. Lord, teach me; Lord teach us to pray aright.


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