Thursday, Dec. 1         Read Luke 1:5-25

from Jamie Gump, Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington, WV:

Zechariah.  Life-long believer, probably even on the cradle roll of his synagogue.  Forever in service to the Lord, faithfully obedient the Law.  Now a priest.  And he doesn’t believe in answered prayer.  Well, that may be a bit harsh.  An angel (he’s not sure) appears to him and says that his prayer has been heard.  “What prayer?” he wonders.  “You and your wife will have a child.”  And he thought, “As old as I am, I quit praying that prayer long ago.”  The angel talks of their coming child who will be great in the sight of the Lord.  Zechariah isn’t buying it.  So the angel says that he will not be able to speak until it comes true.  It does.  And Zechariah’s first words are words of praise (v64).

So, what does it take to believe in answered prayer?  Why pray if we don’t believe that it could be answered?  What about all our long-unanswered prayers?  Would we be able to handle them being answered now?  How long are we willing to wait for an answer?  How do we respond to answered prayer?  How do we know when an angel is talking to us?  Lots of faith questions from an often quickly-scanned passage on the periphery of the Christmas story.

Lord, we believe.  Help our unbelief.  Amen.