READ : Ezra 8:15-23
Then I proclaimed a fast . . . that we might deny ourselves before our God. (v. 21)
Before my wife and I go on a road trip we pray. We ask for safety and for God’s presence on our journey, seeking God’s blessing before launching out onto the highways. But in all the years we have been traveling, Bonnie and I have never fasted before praying. Ezra, the great scribe and faithful man of God, took things one step further.
Before leading the Jewish exiles on their return trip to Jerusalem – even before praying to God – Ezra proclaimed a fast for the community. He led the people of God in humbling themselves together before they asked for the Lord’s blessing and protection.
Throughout Scripture God’s people have fasted as a means of intensifying their prayers and reinforcing their sense of dependence upon God. Ezra did not take lightly the journey God’s people were facing, nor was his prayer for traveling mercies a mere exercise in repeating pious phrases.
Today, you and I have an even greater encouragement to bring our requests to the Father. We have access through the person and work of Jesus (Heb. 6:19-20)! But Ezra’s example is still a good one: when the need is greatest, we should consider fasting, then asking.
Lord, it is with the utmost reverence and humility that I ask you to protect me today.