December 12, 2022

And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 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. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

- Luke 1.11-17 -
Today, we are still in the story about the birth of Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist. Zechariah, John's soon-to-be father, was a priest who worked in the Jerusalem temple. Luke 1 tells us that while Zechariah was in the temple, offering prayers at the altar of incense, he was visited by an angel who told him that even in his wife's advanced age, they would have a son. This son would be the forerunner announcing the arrival of Israel's Messiah.

The altar of incense in the temple represents the place of intercessory prayer. After performing the appropriate rituals and sacrifices, the priest would stand at the altar of incense, just in front of the veil leading into the Most Holy Place. It was here that the priest would offer up prayers on behalf of the people. And as Zechariah the priest prayed for other people, God fulfilled the deepest and most personal desire of Zechariah's own heart.

There is a key truth here about intercessory prayer: As you offer up prayer for others, God sees your own personal needs and desires. As you stand in the gap and lift up prayers to benefit others, God will meet your own needs as well.

Here's the point: Don't grow weary in your prayer life. Don't stop praying for God's blessings on other people's behalf. Make a prayer list and call the names of others before the Lord. As you pray for others in the secret place, God sees your heart and God responds to your faith. 
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