Then the Lord was jealous for his land
    and took pity on his people.

19 The Lord replied to them:

I have one question today: When exactly was then?

Looking back through this chapter, we remember that it opens with a vision of an invading army. In the light of the threat, the people are called to genuine repentance (sincere, not superficial). They are to gather in a nationwide prayer meeting and call on the Lord together.

Jesus taught: ”Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt.5:3). Generally this is taken to mean those who mourn for their sins (i.e. the genuinely repentant).

Following such mourning in chapter 2 there comes this ”Then”: there is a great turnaround. God intervenes. He acts and He speaks.

So we are once more exposed to the power of prayer.

In his excellent book, ‘Praying like monks, living like fools’. Tyler Staton argues that if Christians took the words of Jesus about prayer seriously, pastors would have a hard time getting their people to do anything but pray! But manifestly this is not the case.