This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14,15 CSB
One of my Christmas traditions is reading the accounts of Jesus’ birth. I typically read from the Narrated Bible because I like the way it takes the accounts of Matthew and Luke and combines them into one seamless story. But, for some reason, this year I decided to read Luke’s account from a different version.
I’ve read Luke 1 more times than I can count. But this time as I read I was arrested by one phrase in verse 13. The angel Gabriel is speaking to Zacharias and tells him not to be afraid because “…your prayer is heard.” Holy Spirit seemed highlighted those words.
…your prayer IS heard
Then I heard Holy Spirit whisper, “Read the footnote.” And the footnote indicated that these words could be more accurately translated “the prayer you no l0nger pray” or “the prayer you don’t even pray anymore.”
Holy Spirit whispered again, “Deborah, the prayer you no longer pray IS heard!”
Tears pooled in my eyes.
I can only imagine the number of years Zacharias had prayed for an heir. I can only imagine how he must have felt as years past and he and his wife, Elizabeth, remained childless. Perhaps as they grew older, he remembered Abraham and Sarah. He may have thought and even encouraged Elizabeth with these words, “It is still possible! God can still give us our ‘Isaac’!” and he continued to pray. But with each passing year, the zeal with which he’d once prayed turned gradually to desperation and, eventually, to resignation. Perhaps he thought this was not a part of God’s plan for him or that he and Elizabeth were just too old. Perhaps he thought he’d sinned in some way and disqualified himself. At some point, Zacharias just stopped praying that prayer.
But God is not restrained by time, and what is past to us is present to Him. He hears!! And He hears even the prayers we once prayed but no longer pray.
I don’t know about you, but there are some prayers I stopped praying. I’ve done much like I think our friend, Zach, did. I moved from great expectation to hopeful to possibly to maybe to resignation. And I stopped asking and stopped thanking Him for the manifestation! There are things I have neatly packed away in boxes labeled, “Not This Season,” “Missed God, ” “I Think Not” or “Not in This Lifetime” and placed them on the shelf.
But as I read, Holy Spirit stirred something in me. Just because I stopped praying about certain things because I didn’t see them happen in a time frame I thought was “reasonable” didn’t mean God hadn’t heard them and that He would not answer—in His timing, in His way, as He pleases.
What prayers have you stopped praying or have even forgotten you prayed? Take heart. Know with a certainty God still hears those prayers. And I believe you and I are entering a season of God answering the prayers we no longer pray.
Prepare to be amazed!
With great expectation—