About That Prayer You Prayed in 1987
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
Luke 1:11-14 ESV Read More
So there is Zechariah, doing his job, and an angel shows up. From his education, he’s been taught that if he does anything wrong, God will strike him dead. Angels didn’t usually appear during this ceremony, so he figures this is the end. I did something wrong. Here comes the fire.
The first thing the angel says is “Do not be afraid, Zechariah.” The angel knew who Zechariah was and wanted to comfort him right off the bat. Zechariah doesn’t ask “How do you know my name?” because he knows that God knows all things. The next statement is the mind-blower.
“Your prayer has been heard.” Think about all of the prayers Zechariah has prayed in his life! What could this be? How recently has he prayed for this? Maybe just that morning he was praying that he’d be picked to burn incense, or that his cousin would get over a runny nose. No, the angel knew and Zechariah knew what that prayer was.
In Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis says some great things about time and the way God listens to our prayers:
Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty-and every other moment from the beginning of the world-is always the Present for Him. If you like to put it that way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.
That is difficult, I know. Let me try to give something, not the same, but a bit like it. Suppose I am writing a novel. I write “Mary laid down her work; next moment came a knock at the door!” For Mary who has to live in the imaginary time of my story there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing the knock. But I, who am Mary’s maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second, I might sit down for three hours and think steadily about Mary. I could think about Mary as if she were the only character in the book and for as long as I pleased, and the hours I spent in doing so would not appear in Mary’s time (the time inside the story) at all.
We can pray to God and never fear that we are overwhelming Him. We can pray and know that He has more than all of the time in the world to listen to us, to think about us, and then to come back and enter into our story as He pleases.
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