Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and cavalry to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king that the hand of our God is gracious to all who seek him, but his power and his wrath are against all who forsake him. So we fasted and petitioned our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
What an odd and beautifully honest aside. At first I was put off by the logic here. “I proclaimed a fast…For I was ashamed.” I thought “that’s a terrible reason to have a fast!” But the more I thought about it the more I realized that, of course!, that’s the right time to fast! When you are most unsure, most in need, most insecure. This is when “we might deny ourselves before our God.”