"To Seek From Him the Right Way"
By the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and He heard our prayer. Ezra 8:21,23 NLT
Ezra was a Jewish exile of priestly descent who led the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. When the Jews return to Jerusalem, they rebuild the temple and see major social reforms and a renewed faith in God. Ezra and Nehemiah initiate a revival of the study of Scripture in Nehemiah 8 (in Hebrew manuscripts, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah appear as one book). In Ezra 8 we see the journey of the exiles returning with Ezra to Jerusalem.
According to Ezra’s timeline, the journey from Ahava Canal to Jerusalem took them about three-and-a-half months. We also know that it was a very dangerous road. Ezra mentions that they faced enemies and ambushes (v31) and he gives a unique reason for his motives (v22) in calling this time of fasting: I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship Him.”
Ezra shows us four key principles for fasting and prayer:
1. The purpose of a fast is to “humble ourselves before our God.” Not so that we can bend God’s arm to make Him feel bad for us or answer our every wish, but so we can realize our total, 100%, dependence on Him. In that place of dependence, we position ourselves to be in a more appropriate frame of mind to better understand His will and receive His blessings and favor toward us.
2. God tends to move in situations where no one other than Him can take the credit. I love how Ezra basically cut off the limb he was hanging from and expected the tree to fall and God to hold up his limb! He said, “I’m not asking the king for his help. I’m asking the KING for HIS help.” This was total dependence on God. Some might say this was presumptive or foolish, but we cannot say that Ezra wasn’t ALL IN! He was a bold leader with aggressive faith.
3. When we have a humble heart and a bold faith, we are more receptive to God’s will. The mixture of humility and boldness helps us to land at a place of fasting in order “to seek from Him the right way for us” (v21 KJV). When we end up in a tough place where we face complicated decisions about where to go or what to do or, how to do what needs to be done, fasting helps us see God’s direction of the right way for us.
The “right way for us” is like a fingerprint or a snowflake—it’s totally unique to this moment in time for this journey you are on and for you as an individual. God wants to give you unique vision, direction, and insight for your path.
4. God answers prayer and responds to fasting. Ezra said “He heard our prayer.” God can speak to us in a wide variety of ways: through circumstances, wisdom, and advice from other godly friends or leaders; by direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit or revelation through Scripture; or even by direct miraculous intervention. But just be prepared that sometimes God will lead us in the exact opposite route of “common sense.”
PRAY THIS OUT LOUD
God, I humble myself before You and depend on You alone. As I seek the right way for my life, I believe You will hear my prayer!
What verse or phrase from today’s Scripture reading was the most meaningful to me? What key truths or observations stand out to me in today’s story of fasting? How does the Holy Spirit want to apply this to my life today?
This is reproduced from Griffin, Chris. Fasting For Breakthrough: A 21-Day Biblical Roadmap for Fasting and Prayer (p. 60). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.