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.
Was that the prayer that Zacharias had brought before the Lord many times before? In his younger years, first married, had he begged God for a child, for a son? As the years passed, did he return again and again to God’s throne with the same request that he and his wife be blessed with a baby of their own? As they got older and watched their friends and family members have children and watched them grow up and felt time slipping away, was that prayer still on his lips? And as Elizabeth got to the point past childbearing years, did he bring it up once more with heartache and regret for what they missed out on in their lives of serving God without that one piece to make their family whole?
It’s important to remember that our prayers are heard even if they aren’t always answered how we want them to be or how we would expect them to be. Even if Zacharias had stopped praying for a child years before, God still held his request safe in His hands and in His heart. Whether he had asked for a child once or thousands of times, God remembered his request. And now, finally, in a miraculous way, that prayer would be answered. And not only would the faithful priest and his wife have a son, but their son would be a prophet anointed by God to go before Messiah Himself.
It can be easy to get discouraged when we’ve prayed for something for years without an answer from God. It can be hard to wait on God for His perfect timing to come to pass when it feels like our life and our chances are slipping away. We may even give up and stop praying for what we’ve long desired when it seems too late. But God gathers up the prayers of His children and keeps them close. And when the time is right, He will move in just the right way. And we will know when He is answering our specific request that He is doing what is best for us.
What a great comfort it is that our prayers are heard—and not only heard, but answered. So we can go before the Lord with boldness and with faith. We can share with Him the deepest and most personal desires of our hearts, and He does not take them lightly. We can cry out to Him with any desperate plea for His grace and mercy upon our lives. And in His due time and in His special way, He answers. And though we don’t always get what we want, when we do receive what we’ve asked for, it is always more amazing and special than we could have ever imagined.