I confess that Zechariah is not my favorite book of the Bible. It has some beautiful, quotable, even sing-able passages, like 9:9, for example: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
But those are few in contrast to the many confusing and sometimes disturbing passages; if you don’t know what I mean, take a look at 1:18-21, or 5:1-4.
Anyhow, I recently read through Zechariah again. But this time I read it differently. Instead of racking m brains in an attempt to figure out what it all meant, I asked the Lord instead to teach me about His heart. What is important to You in this, Lord? What do You show me so I can better align with Your purposes for the world?
And He did that. I read a chapter a day and prayed my way through the verses. I didn’t understand everything. That’s an understatement. But I did learn a lot about God’s priorities and longings and plans, and it was meaningful to join hearts with Him and pray into some of those.
To show you what I mean, here are some of the passages He highlighted to me, and the kinds of prayer they elicited from me.
• “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned … was it really for me that you fasted?” (7:5). God’s voice seemed almost wistful to me, pained by His people’s neglect and self-interest. So I prayed first about my own heart and attitude toward worship. Then I prayed for the church as a whole.
• “ ‘ Many people and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘ “ Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty” (8:20-21). I read this and thought about how people from every tribe and tongue and nation will one day bow before God’s throne. Moved by that picture, I prayed for four or five nations that God has put on my heart—nations choked by darkness, where Jesus’s light desperately needs to shine.
• “ Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men and plants of the field to everyone” (10:1). It was cool for me to find this verse because I had already been praying for revival rain to fall on my own nation. So this verse for me was God’s smile of encouragement to keep on praying for those rains to fall. To ask!
I hope these few examples help you see the kind of hand-in-hand reading and praying I was doing in Zechariah. It was different from the typical kind of Scripture praying that I’m accustomed to, because a) I was not looking for certain texts to support what I wanted to pray for, I was just praying what came along as I read and b) it felt very God-directed. I was praying what was on His heart. He was the initiator. He was making up my prayer list each day.
The unexpected byproduct of the experience was that I actually enjoyed reading Zechariah this time! I still can’t explain all the symbolism or say when and where the prophecies will or already have been fulfilled. But I felt connected to God’s heart, and I prayed things I knew were important to Him. And that was a lot of fun.