Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. -Isaiah 58:9
I will admit, fasting has not always been on the top my list of spiritual practices. Maybe the reason that many of us fast so infrequently is because we think of fasting mainly as what we’re going to be without rather than what we’re getting. But what a gift fasting can be! So when a time to fast arises, I know it will be challenging but always rewarding.
In Isaiah 58: 1-5, God reveals to Isaiah why He is displeased with the religious ritual of fasting among His people. Their hearts were not in the right place. “Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” The fasting that was going on was not done with the right heart. This would have come as a surprise to the people. They thought that they had been faithful by carrying out the “act” of fasting. They imagined that their fasting and Sabbath-keeping had pleased God simply by doing it. They did not fast to honor and grow closer to God, but instead fasted to be seen by others. They assumed that God would reward their act, so they fasted to earn the reward.
The idea of a fast is denying ones flesh. By saying no to whatever it is we choose to fast from, it allows us to recognize our selfish desires and our need for God in our daily walk. We can fast for a day, 1/2 a day, one meal or whatever it may be. Use that time instead to seek God. Talk to him about what is on your heart. Humble yourself before God and seek His spirit with a sincere heart. Fasting does not necessarily have to be from food. We could fast from our phones, tv, social media, etc.
We know that Jesus fasted for 40 days before beginning His public ministry and that there is a deep spiritual value in fasting. In the Bible Jesus says, “When you fast…” and not “If you fast…” Jesus makes it clear that He expects His disciples to fast. Fasting has an important role to play in our spiritual life. With all the sickness going on, I would like to encourage you to take some time to pray about what you can fast from during this time.
We can pray that the virus be eradicated and that his Kingdom be made known through this. I trust that as we fast and pray that God will take what the enemy intends for evil and work it for good.
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58: 11