HOW TO FAST AND BE HEARD BY GOD

HOW TO FAST AND BE HEARD BY GOD

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58:1-14

Motives color everything we do, but actions still count. Both matter, especially in spiritual matters. It is possible to go church, sing the hymns and praise choruses, pray and give and yet be offending God. I don’t want to be offending God, especially when I am supposed to be doing things to please him. Israel had this problem with their fasting.

When they fasted they continued to do business (seek your own pleasure) and oppress (mistreat and underpay, if at all) their workers. They were cantankerous; they would quarrel and fight. What was God’s response? Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. God isn’t interested in our religious show of fasting.

A fast pleasing to God has a goal to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke. It involves caring for the hungry and the poor instead of going about business as usual. This kind of fasting has as its goal to bring freedom, both freedom economically but more importantly freedom spiritually. People are not only held in bondage to debt or dead-end jobs but worse; people are caught in bondage to their sin and bondage to demonic spirits that want to consign them to an eternal hell.

I love God’s response to a proper fast.

then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah ties a proper fast to a proper observance of the Sabbath. It is not to be just another day of doing business as usual and pursuing our own pleasures. I think it is worth mentioning that two of the most successful companies in their respective fields are Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, both of which do not do business as usual on the Sabbath or Sunday. ( I know the difference so please don’t argue with me about Sunday not being the Sabbath.)

Again, the results of proper Sabbath keeping along with fasting;

then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I have stated before that my interest in fasting has been reinvigorated by recognizing that it appears by the observation of Disciple-Making Movements around the world to be an essential component that precedes these movements. Many Jesus-followers are concerned about the future of America, and it appears there is good reason. The solution to redeeming our culture and seeing the United States once again riding on the heights of the earth is not political or military might, but masses of pagan Americans bowing the knee to King Jesus and following the King of Kings rather than the Republicans or the Democrats or any other political party.

We must become effective, and God sotted followers of Jesus who become disciple-makers who make disciple-makers, who make disciple-makers. Then we will see a Disciple-Making Movement in our land much like those in the Global South. It is happening in other parts of the world. It can happen here, but only if we will give ourselves to a strong movement of prayer and fasting and walking in the Spirit.

Being disciples is not about better theology, it is about obeying God in Christ, being doers of the word and not hearers only. Join with me in fasting for a great Disciple-Making Movement in the United States.

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