It has been said that all prayer is answered prayer; that there is no such thing as unanswered prayer. It is just that sometimes God’s answer to our prayers is neither “yes” or “no,” but “wait.” On account of that, the word unanswered in the title of this post is found within quotes. Certainly, when the answer is a yes to a prayer of mine, it is a delightful thing. While it may disappoint me greatly, a no answer to prayer is something I can deal with, knowing that God always has my best upon His heart. But possibly the hardest answer to deal with is when God says, “wait.” Wait implies that the answer is yes and so there is excitement that God is going to do something that I wanting to happen. But couldn’t God work a little faster? Why, if He is going to do for me what I am asking for, must I wait?
The answer to this question might be illustrated in the life of Zacharias. Zacharias was a priest in Israel during the days of the birth of Jesus Christ. He had a wife who was named Elizabeth. According to Luke chapter one, Zacharias was now “well stricken in age.” This was Luke’s polite way of saying that he was OLD! Nowhere does the Bible state Zacharias’ exact age, but more than likely he was at least in his sixties.
On one day, as he was entering into the Temple to burn the sacrifice of incense, he met an angel who told him that his prayer had been answered. The Bible is careful to state that it was his prayer (singular), not prayers (plural). It then states that he was going to be the father of a boy. Probably Zacharias was hoping to have a son who would follow him in his priestly duties of serving God. Undoubtedly, this announcement of the angel greatly pleased Zacharias.
But think for a moment with me when Zacharias must have first offered that prayer. It seems reasonable to suppose that he may have been married somewhere around the age of twenty. It also seems reasonable that the desire to expand the family would be there very early in his marriage relationship with Elizabeth. If these things are so, then that means that he had been asking for God to give him a son for about forty years. And being a godly man, that prayer must have been offered regularly, probably every day. Supposing this to be true, at 365 days per year for forty years, he would have prayed for that request 14,600 times. And the answer was “wait” for the first 14,599 times he prayed.
When God finally said “yes” to his prayer it was not because He tired of hearing the same prayer from Zacharias. God said yes because He had a specific time and type of ministry for Zacharias’ son. You see, his son would be named John and commonly called the Baptist. He was appointed by God to be the one who would prepare the way of the Lord. Had he been born forty years earlier, he never would have had the opportunity to perform such a special ministry.
We are living in a day and age where practically everything must happen instantaneously. We get frustrated with our computers when pages of information that might take us hours or more to find apart from the internet, don’t load onto our monitors within a couple of seconds. We microwave our foods because it’s quicker. And if there is a line at the checkout at Kmart, well, let’s not even go there. God is under no obligation, other than His own, to do things at a specific time and that time is always the right time (Galatians 4:4). And that’s worth the wait!