Frightened by God’s Presence

I make it a practice to pray and meditate on Bible passages each day. If you haven’t tried praying like this, I highly recommend it.

In this article, I will try to re-create what transpired during today’s time of prayer and Bible reading.

Preparation

Zechariah had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to offer incense within the Temple. He didn’t casually enter this holy space but undertook preparations for the most sacred event of his life.

While my preparation is far more casual than that of Zechariah, I prepare myself for a daily meeting with the King of all kings.

Most often, I am dressed very casually and in need of a shave when God and I meet. A special chair and a quiet environment help me direct my thoughts and prayers to the One who matters the most.

— I make sure to not be distracted during the meeting with God.

— I use the Bible to aid my prayer time. Since we are studying the Gospel of Luke, I am using the passage of each day’s article as the subject of my prayer.

— To make sure that I am focused, I direct my full attention to God.

Using a phrase or two from a Bible passage helps me stay on track. It also keeps me from being consumed by my own self-centered desires.

An Extraordinary Day

The rare opportunity to offer incense in the Temple was an extraordinary privilege. However, there was no way possible for Zechariah to anticipate an encounter with the angel Gabriel.

Luke 1.11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

Outside of the altar of incense, it appeared to be just another normal day in Jerusalem. King Herod was ruling Israel on behalf of the Roman Empire. Taxes were high and hunger was prevalent.

Israel had been dominated by one country after another since the Babylonians conquered them in 600 B.C. This day was another average day in the life of Israel.

It was anything but average or normal for Zechariah. He encountered an angel. No wonder, he was startled and afraid.

Luke 1.12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.

Pause for Prayer

As I applied Zechariah’s experience to our present day, I talked to God about what most impressed me.

— It is very easy to see only what is visible before us. To-Do lists, jobs, family, friends, politics, health, and much more can easily crowd out the reality of God and his rule.

Zechariah, like so many of us, prayed daily and ordered his life around God’s principles. He trusted God so much that he was completely devoted to God.

The presence of an angel brought home to Zechariah the utter reality of God and it frightened him.

Zechariah’s experience caused me to ask God to impress on me the reality of his rule. The first petitions of the Lord’s Prayer take us beyond the ordinary and carry us into a realm that Zechariah experienced.

“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6.9-10)

The angel revealed to Zechariah that there is a more important and powerful kingdom to serve than any earthly government.

God’s people will pray for that kingdom to advance and will align their lives with the Heavenly King by doing his will.

God’s Perfect Timing

The angel encountered Zechariah with a message of hope and responsibility.

Luke 1.13-15But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

It should not surprise us that God showed Zechariah his plans at a time when the priest was in prayer. God does not “gate crash” his way into our lives. When we are receptive (often while in prayer), we can expect to receive his guidance.

Even though Zechariah had probably lost hope over having a child, the angel told him that his prayer had been heard.

As I meditated and talked to God about these verses, God allowed me to have insights that I have never considered.

God is at work, often among hidden and humble people.

Zechariah was not part of the powerful religious authorities. He held no governmental office. Israel was a despised Roman province, where Roman officials were cast off as a punishment.

It may be that God has someone or many people like Zechariah, who are engaged in his business around the world. They may be hidden, humble, and living in obscure places.

God is patient.

God began his “Under New Management” project with two babies – John and Jesus.

The Psalm writer was right.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
(Psalm 8.2)

God was willing for John and Jesus to grow into adulthood. He was willing to birth an infant church through their efforts.

As God is active in his rule throughout the earth, what child is being groomed by the Holy Spirit to play an important role?

Environment is crucial.

Zechariah and Elizabeth provided a perfect environment for John to mature into the mighty prophet God called him to be.

What sort of environment are we providing for the children whom God has entrusted to us? What babes-in-Christ are we nurturing in the faith?

Your Prayer

This is how Zechariah’s experience with Luke 1.11-15 impressed me while I prayed today. My challenge to you is to use the Bible during your prayer time.

— Get prepared to meet the Lord.

— Bring your Bible.

— Ask God for help.

— Talk to God about what you are reading.

— Align your life with anything God reveals to you.

Also on YouTube

Rudy Ross and I produce an 8-12 minute video on the blog articles. The advantage of the YouTube videos is you get to hear Rudy’s perspective.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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