Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A True Fast

By: Jenifer Metzger

Fasting. A word that is often thrown around these days. A word that went from meaning something important we do in our walk with God, to now being recognized more as a way to diet. We hear of intermittent fasting often, a time of eating and a time of staying away from food throughout our days to lose weight. But a real fast has nothing to do with losing a few pounds.

Other than fasting as a way of dieting, we hear of fasting in the church. Like me, you've probably heard that we fast in order to bring a specific need to God. We deny our flesh from earthly sustenance and use that time to submit to God through prayer and Bible reading. Like me, you've probably fasted in this way. And this is good. But recently while reading in Isaiah, I found that there is more to it than that.

A True Fast #fasting #Biblicalfasting

Isn’t this the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;
when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you get rid of the yoke among you,
the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,
and if you offer yourself to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted one,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and your night will be like noonday.
The Lord will always lead you,
satisfy you in a parched land,
and strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
and like a spring whose water never runs dry.
Isaiah 58:6-11

Did you read that? Maybe you need to read it again. I know I did.

Fasting is the giving up of something. Typically what we give up is food, however, it is also common to fast from things like social media and caffeine. Yet, Isaiah tells us it is more than just giving up something. It tells us to break the chains of wickedness, to get rid of the finger pointing and malicious speaking, to share with those around us, to feed the poor, and to let our light shine to those around us. When we truly fast the Lord's way. we are doing more than skipping meals and praying.

Fasting from food while still gossiping, lying, or stealing, is worthless. We need to commit ourselves fully to God, not just our appetites.

When we fast, the first thing we need to do is go to God. To seek Him for what kind of fast and how long of a fast. Then we need to repent of our sins and ask God to reveal any sin in our lives and willingly lay it down at His feet. We need to ask forgiveness for our wrongdoings and we need to forgive those who have wronged us. Then we need to jump in heart first with our fast. Staying away from whatever it is we have committed to sustain from, seek God wholeheartedly through prayer and Bible reading, and serve Him wholeheartedly -which often means serving His people.

The serving part is the part I had never given much consideration to. But serving others -whether an elderly neighbor, a homeless shelter, etc- while you are fasting is a wonderful way to deny self and serve God. I love this!

Fasting isn't always easy. It isn't meant to be. But when we fast the Lord's way, we can be confident that He will sustain us.

1. Have you ever fasted?
2. When fasting, do you focus more on denying yourself food (or something else) or do you put equal or greater consideration to seeking and serving?

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