August 8

Ezra 7:1-7, 8:21-23

Ezra also returns home

Some years after the Temple was built, Ezra left Babylon with a second group of Jews returning to Jerusalem. Ezra was not a prophet, but a scribe—someone whose job it was to write documents. He studied the Law, which the Lord had given to Moses, and taught it to others.

At that time Artaxerxes was the king of Persia. He allowed Ezra and others to go back to Jerusalem and gave him gifts of gold and silver for the Temple.

Then Ezra gathered all those who wanted to return with him. He told them to fast and pray that God would give them a safe journey. (Ezra did not want to ask the king for soldiers to protect them from enemies along the way because he had told the king that God blesses those who trust in Him.) So they prayed for the Lord to watch over them and their children.

The Lord kept them safe, and when they arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra gave the gifts of gold and silver to the priests of the Temple.

Why should we pray before going on a journey?

Hasn’t God promised to look after us and protect us all the time? (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Why then should we pray for something the Lord has already promised to do? Surely that would show that we don’t really trust God’s promises.

Paul asked others to pray for his protection. He knew that while we are in the world there will always be an unseen war between good and evil (Romans 15:30-32). Through prayer and by faith in God, we strengthen our side and allow the Lord’s will to be done here on earth. By asking for protection we also show that we are trusting in God - not in our own ability.

Because we live in a world where things do go wrong and where people do make mistakes, we should pray for God’s special protection when we travel, and remember to thank Him when we arrive.

Verse for today

But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. Acts 21:5