I needed to read this (from Dr. John Piper):
Now what about Zechariah 13:8-9? It tells us one of the main ways that God awakens earnest prayer in his children, namely, in the refining fires of suffering. Don’t worry about when this passage is talking about. Just see, for now, how God works, and use this word to prepare yourself for God’s prayer school.Read the rest here.
Verse 8: “In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.” So the one third represents God’s remnant—his faithful, imperfect, weak people, who do not pray with the kind of discipline and desperation and joy, and hunger for God, that they should. So what is God’s remedy? What is his school of prayer?
Verse 9: “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.” Notice carefully what is happening. In his great love, God saved the one third from being cut off with the two thirds who perished (v. 8). And then as part of his love for them, he puts them in the fire to be tested and refined. That is normal Christianity. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
But what is it that God wants to see change in his people? Verse 9: “I will test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.” That’s all he mentions. Nothing about their sex lives. Nothing about their money lives. Nothing about their power struggles. He just says: “When they come through the fire, they will pray to me, and I will answer.”
God puts his people through the fire to awaken earnest prayer.