We have often heard the saying that prayer changes things. For one man, who we meet in Luke 1, this saying came true in a way he couldn’t believe.
Zechariah was a priest working in the temple. It was his turn to burn the incense which symbolised the rising of the prayers of the people to the Lord God. Zechariah himself would have been praying and his prayer would have been joined with those of the people who longed for the consolation of Israel, the coming of the One, the Messiah, promised from long ago.
In the middle of his duties, Zechariah was interrupted, but this was no ordinary interruption. Suddenly, standing beside him was Gabriel, an angel who was sent from God and who stood in His very presence. He had been sent with good news: God had heard Zechariah’s prayer.
Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, would have a son to be named John. He would be the one who would make the people ready for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah of Israel. The longing of the people for generation after generation was about to be fulfilled. What Zechariah didn’t realise was that he and his wife would have a part to play in the answering of his prayers.
Zechariah found this hard to believe. After all, he and Elizabeth were old and childless, and did not expect that they ever would have children. However, as is so often the case, when God answers prayer He does so much more than we can ever imagine. God goes beyond what we can understand and when He answers prayers, He expresses His great love.
This answer to prayer gives us hope in this season – that as we pray for people in the continent of Asia who have never heard of Jesus, God will not only hear our prayers but will also answer them. Even more, He will answer them wonderfully!
We have seen time and time again that God answering prayers in remarkable ways. Young women are being won for Christ after suffering the atrocities of capture at the hand of ISIS. Whole villages in remote parts of South–East Asia are embracing Christ as Lord. In parts of India, village after village is being shown the love of Christ through feeding programmes initiated and executed by faithful workers.
Children, often orphans, are being rescued from the horrors of a war of oppression on minority groups in Myanmar, and given not only safety but also education and the good news of the love of God in Christ. Young women are being brought out of prostitution and shown real love. They are offered the hope of a new life in Christ with the prospect of employment training to help build that new life. Families are being lifted out of bonded labour.
These are wonderful answers to the prayers of ordinary people and a reminder that prayer does indeed change things.
Will you join with us in praying for the unreached people of Asia this Christmas?