Have you ever had the Lord answer your prayers differently than what you expected? What is your response to an unexpected answer to prayer? Answered prayer may mean change or new challenges. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had been praying for a child for many years. Now that Elizabeth was beyond childbearing years, the angel Gabriel tells her husband she will conceive and have a child.
13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”  Luke 1:13, 18-20.
Zechariah had been praying about a child, but when it was about to happen it seemed impossible. God often answers pray in a way that only He gets the credit and the glory. Elizabeth was beyond childbearing, yet the Lord enabled her to have a child.
What about us today? When God begins to answer our prayers, we often find His answers disorienting. Circumstances might take unexpected courses, health might deteriorate, painful relational dynamics might develop, financial difficulties might occur, and spiritual and emotional struggles might emerge that seem unconnected. We may feel like we’re going backward because we are not clearly moving forward. We cry out in painful confusion and exasperation when what’s really happening is that God is answering our prayers. We just expected the answer to look and feel different. Psalm 13:1 – O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 
With regard to God’s answers to prayer, expect the unexpected. Most of the greatest gifts and deepest joys that God gives us come wrapped in painful packages.
To hear the story of Zechariah, listen here:
[1, 2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 1:13–20, Psalm 13:1). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.