Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava,
that we might humble ourselves before our God.
The power of the fast is found in the abject humility of people who desire the Lord's way in their lives more than the bread that sustains their physical bodies. Fasting is an announcement the soul makes that the body will not rule over it, and it declares there will be no relief until the issues set before God are resolved in spirit. Fasting does not signal sincerity but rather humbles the soul with dependence upon God.
During his fast Ezra sought the Lord for direction for the families with him and for protection of both the people and the possessions God had given them. Isaiah 58:6 focuses the fast on loosing "bonds of wickedness," undoing "heavy burdens," and freeing "the oppressed." The hunger and discomfort of the fast are reminders to pray, be in the Word, and demonstrate the living Word of our Savior, that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).
- Pastor Jack Hayford