The True Heart of Fasting
“Why have we fasted, and You have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You have not noticed?” Isaiah 58:3 NIV
In Isaiah 58:3-7, God lays out for us (through Isaiah’s writings) two lists of fasting attitudes and outcomes—one set that misses the mark (v 3-5) and another that hits the nail on the head (v 6,7).
FASTING THE WRONG WAY (v3-5): Bowing one’s head, lying in sackcloth and ashes, do as you please, exploit all your workers, quarreling and strife, striking each other with wicked fists.
God says “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard” by Him (v4).
FASTING GOD’S WAY (v6-7): Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Of these actions and attitudes, God says (v6) “This is the kind of fasting I want.”
What takes place on the inside of our hearts through prayer and fasting should profoundly impact what takes place on the outside of our lives in bold, radical action towards others.
Seeking God through fasting, prayer, worship, reading the Scriptures, and meditation is not the finish line.
Fasting and prayer has a way of bringing to the surface the true realities of what’s buried deep within our heart—both good and bad. For some, fasting brings out religious pride (bowing one’s head, lying in sackcloth and ashes). Or maybe our selfishness is racing to the surface (doing as you please).
If we find attitudes and outcomes in our hearts and lives that are not filled with love, joy, and peace—simply repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness and acceptance. Don’t remain stuck in guilt!!
At the end of the day, and at the end of our season of fasting, we all want to have experienced a journey in which we hear God say: “This is the kind of fasting I want.” No one wants to give up meal after meal and not have your voice heard by the Father.
CALL TO ACTION: Look at the list of eight actions listed for us in vs 6-7, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you choose one or two as something God wants you to do and DO THEM in the next 24 hours. Put these in your calendar. Add them to your task list. Set a reminder on your phone. Act in faith and with love to do one or two of these assignments from God.
As we act on these promptings, it’s important to allow God to touch our heart with compassion. Don’t do these things just to do them—that would be fake and hypocritical. What God is looking for in this season of fasting is for our heart and hand to be synchronized, moving together in love for God and love for other people. When our attitudes and our actions are aligned with God, then we will hear Him say “This is the kind of fasting I want.”
PRAY THIS OUT LOUD
Holy Spirit, show me the people You want me to reach out to and express compassion towards. I repent for any religious pride or selfishness. Take my heart and soften it with Your love. Amen.
What verse or phrase from today’s Scripture reading was the most meaningful to me?
What key truths or observations stand out to me in today’s story of fasting?
How does the Holy Spirit want to apply this to my life today?
This excerpt was reproduced from Griffin, Chris. Fasting For Breakthrough: A 21-Day Biblical Roadmap for Fasting and Prayer (p. 36). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.