Zechariah 10:1 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.
One significant background detail is important in reading this verse: Baal was seen as “the storm god.” This is directly contradicting that mindset, stating that Yahweh is the one who provides the clouds and rain. The importance of rain in such a climate cannot be overstated. I once heard a talk by a man who had served a great deal in Afghanistan, back before 2001, and he said that rain was so rare, people were delighted when it rained and talked about “good weather.” That’s the opposite of the normal English, or Japanese, expressions. With that understood, however, what stands out to me is that God is telling people to pray for rain at a time when they would expect it. The original says, “the time of the latter rain,” which the NIV explains as “in the springtime.” The point to me is that God’s blessings aren’t to be taken for granted. This fits in perfectly with Jesus’ instructions to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) It’s important that He said this, because as He also pointed out, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) This runs counter to human reasoning. If God knows what I need, why do I have to ask? That points up the paradox of prayer: prayer isn’t so much to change God as it is to change us. In asking, we acknowledge our dependence on God. True prayer rejects all thought of entitlement and pleads for God’s gracious mercy. Our minds might tell us something is to be expected, but a proper understanding of God and of ourselves is going to cause us to ask for it anyway. That’s why we are to ask for rain in the season of rain.
I am still learning about prayer. I was raised in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, but that doesn’t mean I prayed enough as a child, or that I pray enough now. I have learned that prayer isn’t just “Gimme” by any means. God once had to tell me to shut up and listen to Him! However, a failure to pray indicates a failure to recognize my need for Him, and that is dangerous indeed. I am learning what it is to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but that’s a lesson in progress. As a pastor, I earnestly desire that each person in my care learn the joys and blessings of prayer, but so few really seem to catch on. Public prayer seems like a high mountain to some, to be climbed only with extensive preparation. I point out that we are promised the help of the Holy Spirit, (Romans 8:26) but they don’t have enough of a relationship with Him to be at peace with that. However, with the current reduction in numbers, those who are left are indeed those who for the most part know how to pray, and do. That should give me good hope for what God is going to do in and through us from here! We are indeed approaching Rainy Season here in Japan (June ~ mid-July) and we need to be praying for a downpour of the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual drought in Japan, and God wants to break it! Prayer is an opportunity to participate in what God is doing, and I’m to make full use of it.
Father, thank You for this very encouraging Word. Help me indeed prepare for the rain even as I pray for it, expecting You to provide all we need but not presuming on anything, so that Your name alone may be hallowed and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!