8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
It is a time of prayer. Zechariah is burning incense, a symbol of our prayers rising to God (see Revelation 8:4). Outside the Priests, Levites and people are praying too. Zechariah is also praying as he offers the incense and conducts his priestly duties. As they pray, an angel appears. It appears that God really does hear our prayers and respond!
Father, forgive us for the times we go through the motions of prayer, forgetting what a powerful act it is. Thank you that you hear our prayers – and that you respond. In your grace, give us the grace to pray with faith and expectation.