Yesterday I was working at a local mission conference when I ran into a couple I had met last year at the same conference. In the course of catching up, I learned that they started fostering two young children since we had last met and it was looking like they would soon be adopting. Their biological children were all now in their 20’s and they were laughing about the “why now” aspect of their journey. This couple had seriously prayed about adoption years before when their children were younger, but the cost and complications of the process presented a barrier to them. Life moved on, their children moved out, and the couple gave their lives over to serving victims of sex trafficking.
But God did not forget THEIR prayers.
After our conversation, I remembered the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth recorded in Luke 1. The angel Gabriel appeared before Zacharias, who was serving out his priestly duty in the temple, to announce that his prayers had been heard and God was giving him a son. Zacharias’ response to the angel was not one of faith. First off we are told he was startled and gripped by fear (vs.12). After fear came doubt when Zacharias says to Gabriel “how can this happen to us because we are so old?” (vs.18). In response to his doubt, the angel struck Zacharias mute until the child was born. You need to understand that Zacharias was burning incense in the holy place when this encounter with Gabriel occurred. It was likely the high point of his career, yet he failed to expect God to show up in his priestly ministry or to answer his prayers.
But God did not forget HIS prayers.
Recently I watched my oldest son and his best friend skateboard away from home, heading out together on some adventure. I pray a lot right now for this son, for some of the hardships he’s faced related to our move and his journey through the messy middle years. You see, my focus is on his life right now. But as I watched the boys skate away from me I realized I was watching the answer to prayers from years ago.
For all of his preschool and early elementary years, I prayed earnestly that God would give him a best friend. This son was surrounded by a twin sister, girl cousins, and classrooms overrun with females. Never the typical, athletic boy, most of the boys his age didn’t include him in activities or parties. I simply can’t express the heartbreak he faced at age 10 when, apart from his cousin, nobody came to his big double-digit birthday party. As I watched these two teenage boys skate out of view, I realized that while praying for today’s needs I had forgotten my prayers from yesterday.
But God did not forget MY prayers.
Zacharias forgot that with God all things are possible. This priest of the Lord failed to believe that he could have a child in his old age even though his own faith’s patriarch, Abraham, was given a child of promise in old age too. Thankfully, God’s faithfulness is not conditioned by our responses or memories. In the end, Zacharias and Elizabeth received the promised son. That’s good news to us all! God hears and acts on our prayers, even if we’ve forgotten them ourselves.
Where have you forgotten a prayer from another season? Are you like me, missing the answer to prayer when it comes?