What victories can we celebrate?

What challenges did we encounter?


5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 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. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 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. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 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.”

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Recall from Sunday:

 We pray through our problems with faithfulness (Luke 1:5-10)…

…to reveal God’s larger purposes (1:11-17)…

…so that we might nourish our hearts on those promises in private (1:18-25).


What are the most significant notes you took during the sermon?

What did you learn about God and his plans for us from the Bible passage?


Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a long time without seeing results. What have you been praying and waiting on God for?

God answered their prayer in such a way that also had an incredible impact for the world. Do you believe God has larger purposes in mind in the way he answers or delays answering our prayers? What might his larger purposes be in your situation? Can you trust him?

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth spent time in private reflecting on the work God was doing through them, which prepared them to erupt in praise (Luke 1:41-45, 62-64). What private reflection do you do on the work of God in your life? Does praise come easily to you? Why do you think that is?


The Advent season should not be one of bustle, hurry, panic, and stress. Consider together as a group how you might reorganize your schedule in this season to allow time for more prayer, quiet reflection, and praise.

If you find yourselves struggling to trust God’s larger purposes in the ways he answers prayers or delays, consider what older believers you know that you might ask about God’s faithfulness, or how he’s worked in ways they only realized much later. Their stories could strengthen your ability to trust God and hope in him despite delays.