Three Things We Learn From Ezra’s Prayer

Dearest Reader, 

It feels surreal to be finishing the book of Ezra. His words compel and point us to a steadfast and faithful God. Ten beautifully written chapters around Ezra’s love for God and his people. Along the way, I fell in love again. I fell in love with the God of Ezra, who is the same yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow.

When we last met, Ezra taught us to pray. He taught us to pray with a posture of humility, face down. Showed us what it is to stand in the gap.

Three things we learn from Ezra’s prayer:

  1. Prayer convicts.
  2. It exposes sin.
  3. And, compels us to repentance, turning us back toward God.

There’s no doubt Ezra’s people are in a bit of mess. Intermarriage against God’s command led Ezra to stand in the gap for his people.

When he did, look at what happened:

“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.” Ezra 10:1

The people wept bitterly. They recognized their sin and realized they had a decision to make. Not an easy decision or one without heartache.

And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law.” Ezra 10:3-4

Dearest One, sin, our sin, not only affects us. Sin, whether hidden or exposed, will hurt others. Loved ones. Relationships. The church.

  • Others will be hurt.
  • Loved ones devastated.
  • Relationships, torn apart. 

Somewhere along the path of life, we have all experienced the pain and consequence of sin.

Right away, we quickly spot three things from Ezra’s prayer. 

His prayer exposed their sin — convicted their hearts. And, prompted repentance.

Have you found the same in your life?

As an example, I had a hard conversation with someone dear to me recently. In my moment of frustration, I said more than a few ugly words. Later in the evening, as I was praying, the Lord convicted me. There was nothing to do but send a text apologizing for my ugliness. Grace and forgiveness poured out. However, the words still hung out there between us. Worse, it was between God and me.

For there to be something separating me from God wrenches my heart.

Here in Ezra, chapter ten, families were devastated and torn apart. 

Women and children sent away. I can hear the wailing from here. Can you? Imagine the fear and trembling.

“But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter.” Ezra 10:13 

Reflect on this heartbreaking moment.

The people are many. Many will be devastated. 

It’s a time of heavy rain. By the way, when everything is falling apart doesn’t it always seem to be raining?

They’re standing in the open. Trembling. Cold. Wet. Exposed.

Let’s go back to the garden for a moment. In Genesis, chapter three, Adam and Eve experienced a similar moment.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.'” (verses 8-10)

Adam and Eve stood naked and exposed in their sin before God.

Three things we learn in Genesis repeats itself in Ezra.

  • Sin affects others.
  • Loved ones are devastated.
  • Relationships, torn apart. 

The same pattern is repeated generation after generation, naked and exposed, standing before Holy God.

Can you relate? I do. Cue the heavy rain.

What does this mean for us?

Years ago, in a season of heartbreak, I sat sharing coffee with a godly woman. I uttered the words, “I can’t even pray.” I’ve carried her response with me for more than two decades.

“Tammy, when you cannot pray, you have loved ones like me to pray for you and over you.” 

This godly woman stood in the gap for me. Ezra interceded on behalf of his people, and we get a glimpse of the cross.

Throughout the book of Ezra, we have a beautiful picture of Jesus.

Jesus, on the right hand of God, is interceding on our behalf.

Is there someone in your life you need to stand in the gap for?

No doubt, this event from Ezra, chapter ten, is challenging to comprehend. However, we are compelled to examine our hearts.

Mopping up the consequences of sin is never pretty. Nor is it an easy thing. No one walks away without scars.

We learn from Ezra that prayer also does three things in our life.

Prayer exposes sin, convicts us to make a change, and moves us to repentance.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
Psalm 103:8-13

DEAREST READER, LET’S LEARN FROM EZRA.

Begin today, with a posture of humility, face down before the Lord praying bold and gritty prayers. Pouring out, confessing, repenting, affirming who God is.

When we do, our hearts shift from our faithlessness to God’s faithfulness. Then we can see a faithful, steadfast God.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or send a private email to tlmashburn@yahoo.com.

Lastly, I am here to encourage you, equip you, and guide you as you redefine your wilderness.

Your Wilderness Guide,

 

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*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotes are in the English Standard Version from Bible.com

PS: My first book, Mornings In The Word, is available now. Order your copy today.

“There is no space to live well or love well, much less pursue the God who created us to be in fellowship with Him. We close the gap between what we need and what we want with more. Our spinning lives and broken hearts are empty while appearing full. We paste a smile on our face and tell anyone who asks we are okay while inside we are shattering a million different ways.” -Mornings In The Word