May the strength of The Lord be upon you today! I know I need it. It seems that in the midst of my fasting, every little thing becomes a major deal. Sleeping less is usually not a big deal, but in the middle of fasting, it becomes even harder to continue the commitments we have made to The Lord with a right heart. Do not let the weakness of the flesh or the enticements of the enemy draw you to the lesser thing, but it is time to go up and go higher to the place where we can touch and be touched by heaven. Supernatural strength be upon us all today!
We have discussed some major life changing fruit that prayer and fasting can produce in our lives. This power-packed duo has the ability to do so many things that are super big and majorly important, saving a city, healing a land, shifting the heavens… However, let us not overlook the ways that fasting and prayer aids us in everyday life.
As we look at a passage from the book of Ezra, let me set up the background for you. Israel, God’s chosen people, had rebelled and walked away from God. Because of this, judgment came upon them through the Babylonians, and they are taken into captivity. During captivity, we find Daniel faithfully serving the Lord through fasting and prayer out of a heart of repentance and humility. Grace and mercy come at the set time, partnering with the prayers of Daniel and others, and God uses Cyrus to set the people free and allow them to return and build Jerusalem.
Ezra was of the priestly class and takes it upon himself to lead one of the groups of people back to their homeland. Nehemiah the cup-bearer to the king also brings people back to the land during the same time period. Ezra is preparing to lead this large group of Jews on a long journey to their home. This is where we pick up the story:
Ezra 8:15 Now I gathered them by the river that flows to Ahava, and we camped there three days. And I looked among the people and the priests, and found none of the sons of Levi there.
As they were preparing to leave, Ezra found that none of the designated spiritual leaders of the people were with them. Ezra was the only one who had volunteered to go with the people. How disheartening this must have been to be the only spiritual leader around that was being voluntarily obedient to press into the freedom and return to the promised land that God had given them. All the other “men of God” had decided to remain in bondage, captivity, and comfort rather than press through to breakthrough and walk in the freedom and blessing that God had given them.
After compelling some of his brethren, other priests, to come with him he must realize that the task of traveling with all these people and an abundance of silver and gold, to be used as an offering to God and to pay for the work of rebuilding their cities, will be more difficult than he thought. Therefore, this is what Ezra does:
Ezra 8:21-23 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.
Ezra is being faithful and obedient in his daily life to do what God has sent him to do. He is walking in wisdom to gather other leaders to care for the people going with him, others that will follow, and those that are already in the land. It seems that Ezra is walking as a wise leader, full of faith, obedience, and wisdom; but he realizes that he needs God’s help. Without His protection, they will be easy prey for their enemies. So, Ezra humbles himself and asks for help from the Almighty God. Obviously God is with him. God set it up for all these things to take place. Clearly, Ezra is continually declaring the goodness of God and His hand of protection upon them even to the king. However, Ezra calls the people to humility, fasting and prayer that he might lead them and protect them in a special way.
Today, you and I can be walking with God completely and totally full of faith and obedience. We can trust the Lord and be walking fully in his calling, but this does not mean that we do not need Him to be continually with us to strengthen us and keep us from going astray. Right now, more than ever, you need him right where you are. You need Jesus to invade your home, your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, your church, your city and nation. No matter how spiritually mature you may be or how good things may be going, pride is the only thing that will cause us to walk our daily lives without asking God for supernatural protection and direction.
What is the result of Ezra’s call to humility, prayer, and fasting for direction and protection?
Ezra 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road.
God faithfully directed him and the people the way they should go and protected them along the way. There may not have been any amazing sign or wonder displayed, but this small group of poor, former slaves and their families, traveling with all their herds, possessions, and an abundance of gold and silver, were protected daily as they traveled more than 900 miles over four months.
My encouragement for you is to intentionally invite The Lord into your daily life today and every day. As we fast and ask God for the “big”, “spiritual” requests, do not forget your need for Him to strengthen, guide, and protect your daily, routine, coming and going. Holy Spirit must be infused into every moment of our lives that the glory of God may be constantly and continually flowing into and out of us for all those who need Him to come and drink!
Jesus, I thank You that You are The One who does mighty signs, wonders, and miracles. I also thank You that you are The Good Shepherd that walks with me in my everyday life. I need Your protection and direction in every moment of my life. I invite You to lead me and guide me every single day to walk in Your way. May I never forget to recognize and honor You in every part and every seeming small part of my life!
- Invite Holy Spirit to be with you right now
- Acknowledge your need for Him to guide and protect you today
- Ask Him to reveal Himself in a special way within your daily routine activities
- Recognize and Glorify God in the “small” as well as the “big” blessings today
Be blessed with the ability to know and recognize with increasing perception the amazing blessings God is working on your behalf in your daily life! As this happens, may you glorify Him and be accelerated in The Kingdom !
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!