Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the kming, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
After seventy years of Babylonian captivity, Ezra was about to lead the remnant of Israel - an entire generation of young people who had never seen the temple of Jerusalem, including some very small children - back to the Holy Land. It was going to be a treacherous journey home, but they had boasted of God's mighty hand of protection before heading out, so they had to act in faith and believe their own words. Settled by the river, Ezra proclaimed a fast so that the people might humble themselves before God and seek His face. They needed to know the way they should take, for their protection and for the protection of their little ones.
We need to fast for our little ones. I had not noticed the tenderness in that language before. Usually it is assumed that there were children in the midst of the pilgrims. But here, Ezra sees such promise, such potential and such grave danger for the next generation. It was tempting to request an army to go with them. Perhaps Ezra remembered the old son of David:
Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:6-8
A few verses later, we see that God heard and answered their prayers. Fasting with prayer just seems to open a different frequency in God's ear! Ezra recorded that they left the river Ahava after twelve days to set out for Jerusalem. He also testified, 'The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way." Ezra 8:31. God's hand was upon them, His right hand protecting them and their little ones!
Today, if we have lost anything in this country, we have lost the right way. Yet I ask you,m who is fasting for the protection of our little ones in this age?
Today, fasting has all but disappeared from regular Christian discipline. We have more media availability for preaching than ever before, yet sin and repentance are seldom preached.
Today, our little ones are exposed to every kind of perversion and danger with a click of a button - bit it TV, internet, cell phones, or just a stroll through the local mall.
Today, the words of the weeping prophet Jeremiah cause a lump in my throat as I read them aloud. Speaking of a sinful generation, the Lord said:
Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. SO they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them. - Jeremiah 6:15
In an age where gay and lesbian experimentation is considered normal on campuses, when every type of perversion imaginable is just winked at, when sexual affairs before and after marriage are totally acceptable, our little ones are positioned to be an unblushable generation. Already they are becoming so familiar with sin that when they see immodest filth, they giggle when they should instead blush and turn away.
There is an enemy that is taking captive entire generations in America today. Its grip is getting tighter and tighter - reaching farther and farther. We are standing at the crossroads. 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls' Jer. 6:16.
We have the opportunity to stand up like Ezra, to declare a holy fast for our children (Ezra 8:21), and to seek the Lord for the right way to lead this generation.