Daily Devotional – Day 13
“Fasting For a Problem”
Read: Ezra 8:21-23
Fasting and prayer in Scripture occurred for several reasons. Jesus fasted for preparation in His ministry. Ezra fasted because he was facing a problem and needed God’s help. In 538 B.C., the Persians overthrew the Babylonians and the Persian King Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return home Jerusalem and rebuild their city and lives after being held captive in Babylon for seventy years. After completing the rebuild, Ezra attempted to lead a second group back to Jerusalem but realized they had a great problem. They had to pass through an area that was very dangerous and risk losing the possessions they were taking back to the temple in Jerusalem. Bandits often waited along the roads to ambush travelers and Ezra knew losing these possessions and even the lives of his people would threaten their momentum in rebuilding their nation. Ezra reveals his struggle with asking the Persian king for an army to protect them on their journey (Ezra 8:22). Instead of depending on the Persian King’s help, Ezra calls his people into a fast (Ezra 8:21). God answered their fast and gave Ezra and his people safety in their journey to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:23).
Why did Ezra call a fast? Why didn’t Ezra just ask the King of Persia for help? Why didn’t Ezra just arm the people and fight off the bandits? Ezra knew his desperate situation couldn’t be solved by human efforts. They needed to show their dependence on God’s faithfulness and kindness to see them through this difficulty. Fasting food relayed to God their desperation and sole reliance on His grace and provision. Their fast was not a guarantee of their success. It was done, like all fasts should be, to praise God in their circumstances and show their dependence and faith in Him.
In this case, the Lord answered their fast and protected them. Sometimes we do not receive everything we want from the Lord but He always does His will. Fasting helps reveal God’s will and align our will to His. God will reward those who seek Him with all their hearts and show their complete devotion and dependence on Him. When we seek God in a problem we must humble ourselves, listen to His voice, honor His will, and trust His response. Ezra’s first reaction was not to panic, worry, or act out of human wisdom. He trusted the Lord and led the people to seek Him for everything they needed.
- When you face a problem, is your first reaction to seek God? Do you fast and pray? If not, what is your first reaction to problems?
- When you fast and pray for a problem, are you seeking the answer or God more? How are these different?
- What would you have done if you faced Ezra’s problem?
Lord, help me to trust you at all times. Problems are just opportunities to seek you more. Help me find you. In finding you I find all the answers I’ll ever need. Today, I give my problem over to you and find rest and hope in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.