Contributed by LUMO project

Zechariah 1:12–17 ‘Therefore this is what the LORD says: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,” declares the LORD Almighty.’ (v16)

Whilst we have little knowledge of how prayer works in practice, here God’s angel encourages Israel through Zechariah. We feel pressure when we pray. Life’s problems close in, and we experience little by way of relief. Prayer requires courage and perseverance, for it is born of faith – unseen yet substantial (Heb. 11:1). Prayer can feel like emptying our words out into a bottomless void, with neither answer nor echo from their landing anywhere. This confirms that prayer is always faith acting on God’s faithfulness. The angel here is, as so often in the OT, a representation of Christ. His words confirm that God is observant yet intervenes and acts according to His will and purpose alone. We find encouragement because we don’t pray alone. Christ intercedes alongside us standing before God (Heb. 7:25).

Prayer will feel a lonely and isolated space and we may choose to avoid it. Also we grow frustrated when continuous prayer apparently produces no measurable results. Yet, we’re participating in the unseen dissonance that operates on the far horizon of our mortal understanding, a place where God works His purpose out. God is forever, whilst our lives flourish and fail within a few decades. We’re invited to participate in God’s purpose, yet often, like Abraham, the father of faith, we won’t see the realisation of His promise (Heb. 11:13). Our temptation is to become distracted by our material world, the physical and tangible rather than the immaterial and spiritual. By God’s grace we straddle both, and prayer composes the bridge between the two.

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Ps. 103:13–22; Isa. 11:1–9; Rom. 8:18–39; Eph. 6:10–20.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Write down the things that you struggle with when you think about prayer. Is there someone you trust that you can talk these through with?

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, help me to continue faithful in prayer, even when I feel like I am simply talking to myself. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.