MAY 5

A Prayer for Protection

Bible Reading: Ezra 8:21-31

It was in the summer of 1990.  I’d been called to fill the pulpit at Lewis and Clark Bible Church as they were without a pastor.  A decision as to whether to call me to serve as pastor would come soon.  Since a previous church split, the church had gone through four pastors in the previous ten years, as they had experienced much strife and division that had nearly worked to shutter the church doors for good.  A local pastor called me and asked if we could have lunch together, as he wanted to warn me about what I was getting myself into.  But Laura and I had prayed much about the matter, and I had a God-given confidence regarding God’s call to serve there.  So, I responded to his warning by saying, “If God calls me to serve there, I can trust Him to take care of me and my family in whatever way He deems best.”  You likely know the rest of that story.  God did indeed call us, and then He kept us there for twenty-seven and ½ years and took good care of us along the way.  We loved the church, and the church family loved us.

Since my days in Seminary, I’ve loved this example of Ezra’s prayer, as it was the subject of a paper I wrote for an Old Testament survey class.  That Ezra chose to trust exclusively in God in that to which he was called, and not rely on any other human resources, is a powerful example that can serve to instruct us in our faith and prayers.  

As the Old Testament prophets had predicted the captivity, so they predicted the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.  Jeremiah prophesied that the nation would serve seventy years of captivity in the land of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10).  In 538 B.C. King Cyrus issued a decree providing for a renewal of the worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem and the return of the exiles to Judah (Ezra 1:1-4).  Ezra led one of the three groups of returning exiles.

Ezra was a wonderful leader.  As the writer of the books 1st and 2nd Chronicles, he was well aware of how idolatry and disobedience had worked to bring disaster in judgment to God’s people.  As a leader, he was determined to not repeat the same mistakes of his predecessors.  As a man of faith, Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, to practice it, and to teach it in Israel (Ezra 7:10).  When it came time to lead the returning exiles back to Jerusalem, Ezra assembled them all at the River Ahava.  The King had generously offered a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect Ezra and his entourage of families along the way.  But Ezra refused that help, having told the King, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him” (Ezra 8:22).

So, Ezra proclaimed a fast and the people prayed for God’s protection.  It was a journey of about nine hundred miles and took them about three and a half months.  Opposition and threats were a big concern, but the hand of God was on them, and he delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes along the way (Ezra 8:31).  You know what?  In trusting in God alone to protect them, God alone received all the credit when that happened!  

And so, it should be in our prayers.  We all have problems and concerns, and it’s good sometimes to seek godly counsel (Proverbs 15:22).  But when it comes to trusting God in our prayers, Ezra’s example is so encouraging!  God is well-pleased when we deliberately choose to trust not in human resources but choose instead to put the matter entirely in His hands (Jeremiah 17:5-8).  For He loves us, knows what’s best for us, and is able to work in ways that transcend our thoughts and prayers (Ephesians 3:20-21).  And when we pray this way, then we can say, “Look what God has done!”  

God is Well Pleased When We put a Matter of Concern Entirely in His Hands

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath his wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

Refrain:
God will take care of you,
through ev’ry day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you. [Refrain]

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon his breast,
God will take care of you. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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