Chair Time Reflections - December 10, 2018

Keep Praying

Persistence In Prayer 

Posted by: Josh Larrabee
Sermon Text: Luke 1:5-24
Focus Verse: “But the angel said, 'Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.'" Luke 1:13
In our culture today, we want instant gratification. We want our text messages responded to within a minute, our “like” count on Instagram to balloon instantly, and our food to be ready before it has time to go in the oven. With technological advances, several things have the potential to go faster. We have been conditioned to not have to wait for very long and when we do have to wait, it’s pretty frustrating. Our prayer life can be negatively affected by this culture of instant gratification. If God doesn’t answer our prayers on our time, then we usually give up and move on. However, that is not what God calls us to. God doesn’t operate on our time schedules, he operates on his, and his is always better.

The Bible calls us to persistence in prayer which requires varying degrees of patience. While no one I know has ever enjoyed being patient, the results are almost always better than if we rushed into something or gave up for lack of patience. The poets of the Psalms encourage us to wait on the Lord. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage.” Psalm 33:20 says, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” And Psalm 40:1 tells us, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined his ear to me and heard my cry.” God always hears us. He may not answer as we want or in our time, but he always hears. 

Zechariah and Elizabeth were old. We’re not told how old, but it can be assumed pretty old because of the fact that Elizabeth was past the child bearing age. In the Jewish culture, not being able to bear a child was seen as shameful and was considered a result of God’s displeasure. We know that to be untrue, but in that day, barren women would cry out to the Lord for a child so that their honor could be restored. Following in the footsteps of women like Sarah in Genesis and Hannah in 1 Samuel, Elizabeth had prayed for a son, but it seemed like God was not listening. Unbeknownst to her, God was about to use her and the son she was about to entrust to her, to prepare the people for a new era.

Zechariah, while performing his priestly duties, gets an unexpected visit from the angel Gabriel. He informs him that not only will Elizabeth have a son, but that he will be the forerunner to the Messiah, the prophet, John the Baptist, who will come in the likeness of Elijah. We can assume that was not what Zechariah or Elizabeth had expected. They just wanted a son. What God gave them though would end up being the man who prepared the people for the coming of Jesus. 

Persistence in prayer pays off. Sarah and Abraham’s persistence led to Isaac, who continued the promised line of Abraham all the way to Jesus. Hannah was so persistent and passionate in prayer that the priest thought she was drunk. But God blessed her with Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. What has God placed on your heart to pray for persistently? Have you given up because you got sick of waiting? I have fallen into that trap more times than I care to admit and I’m sure the aforementioned people had times when they felt like giving up too. But keep going. God blesses a pure and persistent heart. Keep praying. Even when it seems like your words are falling on deaf ears, God hears every word you speak to him. 
Scripture Meditations for this week:
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-8
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Thursday: Romans 12:12
Friday: Hebrews 10:35-39
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