I’ve read a story on the internet several times about a group of farmers praying for rain. Drought conditions were killing their crops and the situation was desperate. They decided to all gather one morning for prayer and, so, they all showed up clad in their overalls. One farmer, however, showed up wearing his waders. Why? Because he didn’t want to walk home wet. The point being that, when we pray, our expectation should be that God is going to answer. Why else would we pray?
The gospel of Luke starts off with Zechariah performing his priestly duties in the temple. Zechariah and his wife were upright and blameless. They loved God and did all the right things. There he was in the temple – an opportunity that came along only once or twice in a lifetime. And, so, he prayed.
We are not told what he was praying in that moment. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, did not have any children. She was barren and, now, they were both quite old. Many believe that he may have been praying about his lack of descendants. One commentator believed that, because of their age, Zechariah would not likely be praying for children at this point.
Either way, an angel appears to Zechariah in the temple and informs him that his prayer has been heard.
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.” – Luke 1:13
What must have gone through Zechariah’s mind? I’m tempted to agree with the commentator who doubted that, at that very moment, Zechariah was praying for a child. I think he had probably accepted that a child was not in God’s plan for them and was praying about something else. Most likely, he was praying for the coming of the Messiah which, oddly enough, would be intimately connected to the child he and Elizabeth would have.
What struck me in this passage was that God was resurrecting an old dream. He was breathing life back into a prayer that had, most likely, not been prayed in quite some time. What prayers have you and I given up on a little too soon?
Pray without ceasing. That is what Paul says. Do not give up. Do not grow weary. You may be just a moment away from something miraculous.
Pray without doubting. That is what James says. Pray with faith. Pray with expectation. If you’re praying for rain, for crying out loud, show up with your waders on. Like the psalmist, present your requests to God and wait expectantly!
Consistency in prayer has, in the past, been difficult for me. I tend to be consistently inconsistent in many areas of my life. Often, it’s just laziness on my part. In some instances, I just do not know what to pray. Other times, I’m afraid of being hurt or disappointed when a prayer is not answered in the way I had hoped or on my timetable. None of those things, by the way, are good excuses.
Whatever it is that you are currently praying for – don’t be afraid to get your hopes up. Wear your waders proudly or, at the very least, carry an umbrella.
You are loved.