- Are you looking to get closer to God?
- Have you ever gone on a fast?
- If so, why did you?
- What was the outcome you were looking for?
Our passage today may seem outdated and even foreign to a lot of you but I hope you will stay with me this week. I think you will be tremendously blessed and I know God has blessed my life with it.
I think your exposure and opinions on fasting depend on what kind of church you are in and/or what the leadership believes about fasting. In the church I went to while I was growing up, fasting was not talked about at all that I remember. So, until I was a young adult and started visiting a church of a different denomination, I had very little knowledge of it at all – the Pharisees practiced fasting regularly, and that was all I knew.
Our passage for today:
Isaiah 58:6-9a (NIV)
Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderers with shelter– when you see the naked to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help and He will say, “Here I am.” (We will be working through this passage this week and next week we will pick up at the second half of verse 9 and work through vesre 12.)
At one time, several years back, I was digging into God’s Word and trying to understand why we are supposed to fast. I had heard that it was to let God know that I was serious about what I was praying for but that just seemed like an attempt to manipulate God to me and I knew that was not why we were to fast.
Consequently, during this time of seeking to understand, my concordance directed me to this passage in Isaiah. It is wonderful!
You can see what fasting is not and how it should not be done by reading verses 1-5 later.
Let’s look at verse 6:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen… “
This simply indicates that the right way to fast is about to be explained. I bet I did not have to tell you that. 😉 Fasting is an act of humbling ourselves. It is an act of denying our own comfort and seeking God. We may be wanting to grow in our relationship with God or doing intense praying for someone else.
“…to loose the chains of injustice… “
We need to get serious about praying for them when someone is caught in chains of injustice and God brings them to our attention. What are some examples of chains of injustice that you might be caught in? An abusive home; a catastrophic disease, etc. I would say this would be a situation the person did not put themselves in intentionally.
“…and untie the cords of the yoke… “
However, many times we do put ourselves in yokes of bondage from which we cannot free ourselves. In many cases, our decision/sin definitely puts us in a yoke of bondage – drug addiction, adultery, negativity, gossip… This list goes on and on. As a result, we get so deep in that we cannot get ourselves, then, God has to intervene for us. For this reason, when we or someone we know are in a yoke of bondage we need to get serious about praying.
Free and Break
“…to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke?”
To be oppressed is to be weighed down with a burden – a yoke of bondage. I know that what God wants to do is to align our will with His will. When we are seriously seeking Him – humbling ourselves, denying ourselves and praying – He often does just that.
Our Being Free
Also, fasting is not just for when we are praying for someone else. We can seek God for ourselves. We may have had a yoke of bondage for as long as we can remember or we may have just seen it take hold of us over the last few years. These are things I know about bondage:
- Oppression is from the enemy of our God and our souls – Satan.
- It will keep us from being effective and walking in the freedom of Christ.
- We need God’s help to get free of it.
Humility or Audacity
I have often heard, “I am going to fast to let God I am serious about… ” I have seen people fast trying to get their own way in a situation. One aspect of fasting is that we are taking time and discomfort (hunger) and letting it remind us to pray fervently for someone or a situation. Of course, the best prayer is always for God’s best in a situation. We may not know what His best is but He can bring us around to His thinking if we humble ourselves and seek Him.
Indeed, He wants to break chains of injustice and untie the cords of bondage but on His terms, in His time and according to His will. So, just know that we cannot and will not convince Him to do anything by fasting that He does not already intend to do. We cannot change His will by showing Him that we mean business. Think about that prospect. It is appalling! To think that we could ever manipulate or force the hand of God Almighty – so audacious.
The Main Change Fasting Brings
What He changes when we fast and seek Him is our hearts. He aligns our will with His will, and He is God and we are not. We need desperately for Him to help us keep things in perspective.
Tomorrow we will take it a little deeper. I am so glad we are on this amazing journey together!!
Let’s go to the Lord in prayer:
Thank You, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. It is so rich and full of Your character and personality. I am so thankful that You allow us to know You. Please help us to walk with You according to Your Word. Makes us completely Yours. Help us to glorify You, alone. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
Go Deeper Today: