This past week, my parents and I had multiple conversations about events in the news. After much talk about several freaky car accidents which had been reported, I remarked, “We may have to start praying before we leave the house like Gram always did.”
Now mind you, this was no quick prayer uttered casually. No, Gram went down on her knees right in her kitchen, having turned a chair to pray. And pray she did.
I know this to be true because there were many times I was there with her and also had to get down on my knees.
Mom was quick to add, “And don’t forget to pray when you return. She prayed going and coming.”
This was true as well.
A few mornings later, I read about Ezra and some of the Jewish exiles taking a return trip to Jerusalem ….
“And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled.” (Ezra 8:21, NLT)
Ezra had openly bragged on God’s ability to protect the Israelites as they journeyed. He could have asked the king for help and protection but to do so would look as if Ezra did not really believe this to be so.
This was not a quick ride in a car or walk to the store. No, this was a trek on foot – walking, all 800 miles. Five thousand people on foot through unprotected territory. Ezra recognized the need for help and called upon God for their protection, safety, and health.
Prayer. Fasting. Some might consider these to be rituals or habits or even a sign of desperation. Yet when we do pray and/or fast we are grounding ourselves in most effective practices, thousands of years old.
This is not a new idea.
When I pray, I am following what those before me have been doing. I follow, and hopefully continue to set, an example. Praying and fasting has been what has molded people as they received help and guidance from God.
As I see the walk and rhythm of those who have gone this way before me, I come to learn exactly what I need to do in my own life.
“So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us …
and he heard our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23, NLT)
As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story!”