September 2022

The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used primarily in the context of a Prayer Group, but it may be used by individuals too. It is not intended to be definitive.  In the context of a group: the periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.

Saying for the month:

Zechariah 4.6. 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit' (RSV)

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; you may want to relax your way through your muscles or you may find it helpful to become aware of the sounds around you and then put them aside as you offer this time of prayer to God.

Say this introductory invitation to prayer, then keep a further minute or two of silence:  ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11.28)


Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind: 

'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

The book of Zechariah looks both back to the past and forward to the far future. In his visionary writing, Zechariah has much in common with Daniel and Ezekiel; and like Haggai, he was closely involved with the rebuilding of the temple following the return from exile. The book distils the wisdom of many of the earlier prophets whilst at the same time bringing into focus events that are to come, containing as it does detailed references to the Messiah which are fulfilled in the life of Christ.

The visions of four horsemen and four horns in the first chapter bring messages of comfort and encouragement for God’s people – ‘four’ indicates completeness, the four quarters of the earth. In chapter 2, God pledges himself to protect Jerusalem and be with his people: ‘I will dwell in the midst of you’ (vv10, 11). So in the following chapters there are further images of peace, prosperity and plenty – the vine and the fig tree (3.10) and then in chapter 4, the seven-branched lamp and the olive trees. These images are taken up in Revelation 1.12 and 11.4, where John draws on them to indicate God’s care and protection for his people, and for the faithful church.

In this context, then, we find the words of our Saying. The start of work on the temple has been made, the first stone has been laid by Zerubbabel; he will also the last one and ‘whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice’ (4.10). God assure the people that from small beginnings, great things will be accomplished: ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’. He will be present amongst them again, but they must wait on him, on his Spirit, on his time…

Having sought to understand them in their Biblical setting, we now listen to these words of God in the silence of our minds. They are words of assurance: it is not the things of this world that will prevail, but God’s power. Human strength and determination are important and even necessary, but ultimately are not predominant.

We take this Saying into our minds, allowing the saying to speak to us: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

A time is now kept for silence of the mind – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.  The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or feel free to repeat the Saying.

The first silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

As I write, we are experiencing tremendous storms and in my local, heavily forested, area many fine trees have been destroyed, as well as innumerable other ones damaged. We can, however, look back to the great storm of 1987 and all that has sprung up and flourished in the time since then; we remember that ‘great oaks from little acorns grow’; and we look forward in time to seeing the growth of saplings, encouraged by the space and light that emerges from the destruction.

Additionally in the last few days we have seen the start of Russian military action in Ukraine – a demonstration of might and power being used for political ends. The consequences and effects are at present only to be speculated upon but there is anxiety and fear in the Ukraine and in the wider world.

Zechariah refers to the building of the temple, when ‘the mountain shall become a plain’, and the temple shall be completed to shouts of ‘grace, grace to it!’ (v8). Such an achievement must have seemed impossible but God’s promise is there and through his Spirit, it will be accomplished. And here now the words from 2 Corinthians 12.9 can be layered upon those from Zechariah as we pray contemplatively: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ or ‘My strength comes into its own in your weakness’ in The Message. Christ was ‘crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God’ says Paul.

At all times, even we are most vulnerable and at our lowest point, we look to the power of God in the Spirit – symbolised by the dove, just as is peace. Sometimes it is not always easy to trust in God - we struggle on, attempting to do everything in our own strength. In our times of contemplative prayer we are practising this handing over of ourselves to God, allowing him in the stillness and silence to breathe into us the might and power of his Word, which is Spirit and Life.

‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

Now we take this word into our hearts, as we allow Jesus’ words to speak in us, to let it touch us and let it work more deeply upon our lives.

A time is now kept for silence of the heart – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.

The second silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.


Introduction to the time of intercession – taking God’s word outwards into the world.

‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example:

‘Alison and your family … ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’.

As we allow the word to speak through us we might direct Jesus’ word towards those people and situations where there is suffering, hurt and an absence of joy and where abiding in Christ would bring comfort.

Conclude this time of intercession with words of thanksgiving: Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

The Conclusion

Feel free to use the Fellowship Prayer (below) or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer:

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, ourselves, our souls and bodies; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do.  Amen

You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.