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Ezra 10:1–4 ‘While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered round him. They too wept bitterly.’ (v1)

Ezra had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon under strict instructions from its king, Artaxerxes. He was to establish the Temple and teach God’s ways once more to the Israelites (Ezra 7). Discovering disobedience, Ezra humbled himself and prayed on behalf of those who faced God’s judgment (Ezra 9). This illustrates how we can take responsibility to stand and pray before God on behalf of those whose actions deny God’s truth (intercession). Ezra did not engage in dialogue with anyone but immediately turned to prayer. We live in an age of 24/7 news and comment, when often our first response is a social media post or retweeting something we ‘like’. This leads to a crescendo of internet noise, highlighting disagreements and escalating division. As disciples we are invited to turn to private, personal prayer.

All who follow Jesus are encouraged to become ‘first responders’. Our emergency service is prayer, and we are to prioritise this over everything. We may feel disengaged from the events unfolding around us in real time, be they sudden or slow-burning, but in fact we’re involved in the heat of the battle and prayer influences outcomes in ways we cannot fully comprehend. That’s because prayer is born of obedience and, as those who choose to obey God, we do not need to understand through the exercise of our reason, but of our faith. Faith is our distinctiveness in a world that proposes many solutions, the majority of which have borne little lasting fruit.

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Dan. 9:1–19; Hab. 1:1–4; 3:17–19; Luke 19:37–48; Rom. 9:1–18.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Are you able to resist the temptation to add your voice to the cacophony of online comment and instead quietly humble yourself and pray?

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, I can’t go back and change the beginning, but I can start where I am and pray for Your will to be done here and around the world. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.