Prayer, fasting, protection!

Scripture reading for May 4th: Ezra 7-8

Were you ever in a strange land and carrying lots of money?  Mary and I went to Russia in 1999 to adopt our two daughters.  We had to travel by plane and train literally half-way around the world.  We were told that we needed about $3000 dollars in cash to use in the process.  This was a lot of cash to carry around in a strange part of the world where the average wage was around a hundred dollars per month.  We needed God’s gracious hand on us as we traveled!  God answered our prayers and all went well and we are now, over twenty years later, blessed with two beautiful daughters, two wonderful son-in-laws, and one amazing grandchild!

The book of Ezra records another trip taken by God’s people where they traveled by caravan across 800 miles of dangerous territory with lots of valuables–25 tons of silver and nearly 4 tons of gold!  (Ezra 8:26-27)  Ezra had told the king about God’s power to save His people and now the rubber met the road.  He called the people together who would be taking the trip and asked them to fast and pray for God’s protection over their caravan.  (Ezra 8:21-23)  They set out after consecrating themselves and their valuables to the Lord for His protection.  Their trip was uneventful and nearly 4 months later they arrived safely in Jerusalem!

We are reminded today of the importance of being consecrated to the Lord.  Prayer and fasting are not ancient disciplines that are outdated in the twenty-first century.  They are acts of faith that keep us focused on our amazing God, Whose favor and protection are needed.  We travel this world that is full of dangers both physical and spiritual.  We have valuables more precious than gold and silver–our sons and daughters, our grand-children, our fellow human beings!  Prayer and fasting are needed to preserve their lives and souls!  In God’s gracious hands, we will arrive safely at our destination in the heavenly Jerusalem!

“The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but his great anger is against all who forsake Him.  So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer.” Ezra 8:22-23

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