December 11: Who can God work with in prayer?

[25] And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
[26] And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

Notice a common thread here? Zacharias and Elisabeth were:

[6] And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:6

Joseph was a just man also:

[19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

Matthew 1:19

Is your desire to be used of God? Then we need to be living for God!

Or we can just enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).

To Be Used of God

December 10: How to respond to prayer disappointments?

You had a need. It was a legitimate need. You prayed about it. You had Bible verses backing up your legitimate need. You had promises you claimed. You did everything you were supposed to. You didn’t have any unconfessed sin or anything. But God didn’t answer your prayer request. Until one day He answers it – but not in the way you were expecting, much less the time you were expecting. And in the process, you are chastised for not trusting God. Disappointment and a scolding. How do you respond?

Zacharias responded by praising God!

And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

Luke 1:64

December 9: What’s impossible with God?

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

A barren old woman is expecting? A virgin is expecting? God can do the impossible!

In Sunday School, the pastor reiterated the common problem we have – we only go to God when all else fails, but we can go to God first to solve our impossible problems!

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specializes in things thought impossible.

He does the things others cannot do.

Oscar C. Eliason

December 8: Grateful for God’s blessings

Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Luke 1:25

Echoing Rachel, Elizabeth recognized the blessing of the Lord.

And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach

Genesis 30:23

What is your attitude when God answers your prayers? Is it to brag about it to others – or brag about your God to others? Do we take it for granted – or do we stop to thank Him for His blessings?

December 7: Believing you will receive?

And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Luke 1:20

Zacharias, unlike Mary, had to act for God’s plan to be fulfilled.

Let’s contrast Zacharias with the early church and an Old Testament character:

  • Zacharias was afraid to claim the direct promise of God.
  • The early church sought a promise from God, but didn’t believe when the answer came!

[12] And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
[13] And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
[14] And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
[15] And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Acts 12:12-15
  • Shadrach said God is able to promise, but we’ll obey Him even if He doesn’t promise.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:17-18

In all three cases God answered their prayers.

Shadrach had no direct promise of a supernatural protection. Zacharias had a direct promise of a supernatural action.

Shadrach believed God but wasn’t presumptive that God would answer. Zacharias was a righteous man but weary and didn’t believe that God would answer. The early church mocked the one who said the answer came!

The key to answered prayer is not “how hard we believe” – but in Whom we believe.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Matthew 17:20

Patch the Pirate has a great song about “Mountain Moving Faith”

December 6: Where do answers to prayer come from?

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

Luke 1:19

The answer to Zacharias’ prayer did not come from Gabriel, it came via Gabriel. Gabriel did not answer his prayer. Gabriel was the messenger to deliver the answer.

The answer to his prayer, and to our prayers, come from God. His servants that inspire fear, are just that, servants. A meeting with the Secretary of Education is impressive, but not as impressive as the President of the United States. An angel is cool, but nothing compared to the One in Whose presence he stands.

God, thank You that we have direct access to You! Thank You that You do not call us servants any more, but friends! You have invited us to draw near to You! Help us to draw near.

December 5: Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:17

The angel Gabriel is quoting the prophet Malachi, from the very last verse of the Old Testament.

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Malachi 4:6

By the way, in Zacharias’ day this wasn’t just the Old Testament, this promise was the last words of God – and about 400 years old.

To modern readers, this is like reading the Mayflower Compact from 400 years ago (the guiding principles of the founders of our country). So much changes in 400 years. But the difference was not just one group of historically significant people contributed this document to our history – the Malachi prophecy was the words of Almighty God!

Zacharias wasn’t just having a baby boy – he was having the foretold messenger that was prophesied 400 years ago.

But that task that John the Baptist began is still not done.

$100,000,000,000. That’s One Hundred Billion Dollars. According to a government research study, that’s the cost of abstenee fathers. We need the hearts of the fathers turned to the children today. Let’s pray that God will continue His work and can use us in His ministry.

December 4: What is God’s plan for prayer?

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Luke 1:14

Zacharias was old and tired. “Well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7). And now afraid (Luke 1:12). He was scared to death. As if the angelic visit wasn’t enough, trying to raise a newborn boy at an old age?

And to top it off, he would be mute for nine months (Luke 1:20).

Was God punishing Him? No – Zacharias was righteous and blameless (Luke 1:6).

God was blessing Him with joy and gladness (Luke 1:14).

God wants to make you joyful!

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Proverbs 10:22

December 3: A long unanswered prayer

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Luke 1:13

How long do you think Zacharias had prayed for a son? If his wife was 20 at the time they were married, and now was “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7) – they were now perhaps in their 60s or even older?

Imagine the young couple, newly married, the young priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Several months into their marriage, they are worried, and make an appointment to talk to the high priest. He asks them to check for sin in their life (Deuteronomy 7:12-14). They return home, confess their sins, and wait.

The next year, they make another appointment to talk to the high priest, and perhaps he told them to pray like Isaac did and make this a specific prayer request (Genesis 25:21).

Perhaps the third year they meet again with the high priest, and were told this time to pray like Daniel, for three weeks at a time, fasting even (Daniel 10:3), until the satanic messenger is defeated (Daniel 10:13).

Perhaps the next year they talked to the high priest, and were told to pray like Hannah (1 Samuel 1:7), who year after year went to the temple barren, and “wept sore” (1 Samuel 1:10).

Perhaps the fifth year, the high priest suggests that they copy the pattern of Hannah, and make a vow to give their son to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). A Nazarite vow.

Where was the God of Psalm 113:9? Did the promise of Deuteronomy 7:14 fail? They met the conditions – they were righteous in the sight of God (Luke 1:6).

The years turned into decades. The wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) was now “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7).

Perhaps they had been praying decades for the prayer request, only for Zacharias to give up because they thought it was impossible. He may have admitted that God’s ways were beyond his comprehension, and like Job he would accept his fate (Job 1:21).

He continued to serve God in the temple, faithfully in full-time service.

But after he had given up, when it seemed impossible, God answered His prayer.

December 2: The qualities of the man (and woman) who receives answers to prayer

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:6

Notice that Zacharias and Elizabeth were seen by God just as Noah was.

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Exodus 7:1

What was Noah known for?

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:9

Noah walked with God. Today we call that “prayer.”

Zacharias, Elizabeth, and Noah realized the truth that Isaiah proclaimed:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Isaiah 59:2