But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
How long do you think Zacharias had prayed for a son? If his wife was 20 at the time they were married, and now was “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7) – they were now perhaps in their 60s or even older?
Imagine the young couple, newly married, the young priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Several months into their marriage, they are worried, and make an appointment to talk to the high priest. He asks them to check for sin in their life (Deuteronomy 7:12-14). They return home, confess their sins, and wait.
The next year, they make another appointment to talk to the high priest, and perhaps he told them to pray like Isaac did and make this a specific prayer request (Genesis 25:21).
Perhaps the third year they meet again with the high priest, and were told this time to pray like Daniel, for three weeks at a time, fasting even (Daniel 10:3), until the satanic messenger is defeated (Daniel 10:13).
Perhaps the next year they talked to the high priest, and were told to pray like Hannah (1 Samuel 1:7), who year after year went to the temple barren, and “wept sore” (1 Samuel 1:10).
Perhaps the fifth year, the high priest suggests that they copy the pattern of Hannah, and make a vow to give their son to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). A Nazarite vow.
Where was the God of Psalm 113:9? Did the promise of Deuteronomy 7:14 fail? They met the conditions – they were righteous in the sight of God (Luke 1:6).
The years turned into decades. The wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) was now “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7).
Perhaps they had been praying decades for the prayer request, only for Zacharias to give up because they thought it was impossible. He may have admitted that God’s ways were beyond his comprehension, and like Job he would accept his fate (Job 1:21).
He continued to serve God in the temple, faithfully in full-time service.
But after he had given up, when it seemed impossible, God answered His prayer.