“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this 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 wanderer 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 am I. -Isaiah 58:1-9 (NIV)
I attend a group called Mother’s Together at my church on Wednesdays. Last week a wonderfully wise woman spoke to us about fasting. I found it highly educational and quite intriguing! Let me clarify – we are not referring to any type of diet, weight loss, or physical cleansing program. We mean fasting as voluntarily going without something (food, soda, coffee, facebook, internet, tv, videogames, etc.) in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. My intentions are not to regurgitate the teaching I received. If this piques your interest, as it did mine, you can find many examples of fasting in the Bible.
Typically fasting refers to going with out food. All of the examples I read in the Bible were fasting from food and sometimes food and drink. The fasting is to be done privately, meaning not to be something you brag or whine about. The pangs of hunger felt constantly remind you to be seeking time with God and praying. Fasting says to God – You are more important than anything else and recognizes all He has done. In modern times fasting doesn’t have to be going with out food. We’ve become very dependent on many things being a consistent part of our life that fasting from them and replacing it with prayer can also be very powerful. I have done these types of fasts before with my church and it has lead to remarkable things. I’ve been wondering though what I may be called to fast from food for personally.
We were asked to consider anything our heart is broken over as a possible focus for fasting. Many things could fall under this category for me, but the two that have continued to bounce around in my head since this teaching are about my sons. My oldest seems to struggle with his confidence. As much as this is part of the age/stage he falls in, it breaks my heart to see it because I remember all to well struggling with it myself at his age. My youngest struggles with his health. Even though I can count us so blessed that he doesn’t have more to struggle with as so many others with spina bifida do, he still deals with a lot and watching/helping him go through all he does everyday both breaks my heart and inspires me.
Please note: each individual is different and if you have any concerns about health risks from fasting from food, etc. consult your physician first.
Father I am so blessed to have witnessed this teaching on fasting. I feel simply understanding this practice better draws me nearer to you. I ask for the wisdom to know if this is something you are calling me to do for the circumstances that break my heart. I pray for all those who are intrigued by this practice and may feel called to fast for the first time, may it be a blessed experience. In Your Son’s Sweet Name, Amen.