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Prayer in the post-exilic prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi

O'Kennedy, Daniel (2014)

CITATION: O'Kennedy, D. F. 2014. Prayer in the post-exilic prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Scriptura, 113(1): 1-13, doi:10.7833/113-0-102.

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Certain scholars (Johnson, Miller, Reventlow, Scharbert, Rhodes, et al) declare that prayer, especially intercession, was an integral part of the prophets’ ministry. It is also significant that prayer was not neglected in the post-exilic literature of the Old Testament. Many of the longer prayers originated in the post-exilic period (Ezra 9; Neh 1; Neh 9; Dan 9; 1 Chr 29:10-19; etc.). The question posed by this article is: Does prayer play a prominent role in the ministries of the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi? One would expect a positive answer to this question. This article illustrates that there is no recorded prayer in these prophetic books and only a few indirect references to prayer (cf. Zech 7:2, 13; 8:20-23; 10:1, 6; 12:10; 13:9; 14:16-17; Mal 1:9). These passages do not refer to the prophet as petitioner, but to the interaction between YHWH and his people. Zechariah 7:13 even states that YHWH will not answer the prayers of his people. There may be different reasons for this scarcity of prayer references and the other post-exilic prophetic literature provides more questions than answers. We can probably say that prayer was not an integral part of the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi’s ministries. Prayer was overshadowed by their proclamation of the word of God and their focus on the rebuilding of the temple and post-exilic community.

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