First we see fasting is not about God being more available to answer our cries. In a loud voice He is telling the prophet to yell at us because our prayers won’t be effective the way we are now. The condition of his people is all smoke and mirrors, He says. We are doing many things that look correct but the “walk” is not in step with the “talk.”
Then He tells us why. Dare we look?
He talks about “the bottom line.” It is easy to read His list and see that it doesn’t fit me. He is calling us to look at the similarities not the differences. He is asking us to answer for ourselves, judge ourselves, be honest with ourselves. He challenges our religiosity ... the things other people say are pious, the things that the world “thinks” are Christian, the plastic stuff, the mask, the deceit.
The serious element of a fast, in God’s view, is a heart issue. It is all about us recognising our sin and the repentance, OUR repentance ... His forgiveness and making the 180 degree turn-around after facing the Truth of who we are really and turning our back on the "factors of our being" that form a chasm between Him and me ... the sin in our lives.
When we make this commitment by taking action we become usable and teachable toward the goals of fasting acceptable to the Lord:
- To break the chains of injustice
- Get rid of exploitation in the work-place
- Free the oppressed
- Cancel debts
This is the best we can offer to/for others ... the gift of Life. To deny ourselves is to allow extra time and bring heightened awareness to the purpose of the 4 topics above. To sacrifice our daily life in this way is a sweet aroma to our Heavenly Father. He desires our obedience first.
Reading Isaiah 58 is a journey not an event. It’s about circumcising our hearts, ourselves, making an offering out of the full life of freedom and liberty we have as an inheritance, as a son in His house. But, the result is not for us. As servants we do this for others.
This year we see how we are being challenged by the Lord of Heaven to make significant changes in His “house” ... Hands at Work. We see Him challenging the things of man and bringing His people to a place of total dependence on Him ... keeping us humble ... calling us to wait ... offering us an opportunity to put our only hope in Him. Let us not fail Him by getting in the way of what He is doing.
Let us surrender our fasting and prayer time to Him in open, abandoned deference knowing only Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Let us sing, dance, praise, have communion together, make declarations, rejoice, shout and with reckless abandon make something that will put a smile on His beautiful face.