Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. (Luke 1:11-13)
Have you read Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter family series? They are a close-knit family, supporting each other, doing God’s work, and praying for each other. I always pray for my family. First, I prayed my children would wait for the spouses God has chosen for them. After many years, I’m certain that prayer has been answered. Now, I pray my future grandchildren are born healthy and well-equipped for the work God has chosen them to do.
Like Elizabeth, Zechariah prayed faithfully for a son, even beyond Elizabeth’s child-bearing years. God sent Gabriel, his message-bearing angel, to Zechariah announcing the miracle. Gabriel frightened Zechariah. Perhaps he appeared large and emitted overwhelming light. But he brought the news Zechariah had been waiting many years to hear. “Your wife will bear you a son.” Zechariah must have wanted to name his son after himself or someone in the family as was the custom, but God wanted the world to know it was by His grace that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son, so Gabriel also said, “You are to call him John.” John means God is gracious.