Have you ever fasted? Really fasted? I am not referring to skipping a meal; I mean skipped several meals in order to pray and draw closer to God…
I would guess that not many Christians have fasted. Some that I have asked about biblical fasting have replied that they have never had a need to fast. Some say they do not know how.
As we enter the Christmas Season, there is no better time to fast.
Over the next couple of days, we will look at Biblical fasting, or as Isaiah puts it, God’s Kind of Fasting…
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
– Isaiah 58:6-9a NIV
Before God reveals His standards for a fast, He tells us what a fast is not. In the first part of this chapter, He tells us a fast is :
- not an opportunity to take advantage of others.
- not a time for brawling.
- not a time of partying.
- not a time to call attention to yourself, and
- not something to brag about.
It is, however,
- an opportunity to give to the less fortunate the food that you are passing up
- chance to be hospitable to the needy.
- time to entertain strangers.
- an opportunity to make amends with family and loved ones.
- a chance to clothe those who need it.
This unique look at fasting, as an opportunity to minister to others, is just part of the definition of fasting. Fasting is, I believe, seldom taught this way in our churches. Yet, what a great opportunity it is to help others “loosen the chains of injustice and… set the oppressed free.”
Shall you approach Christmas with a fast, and use it to untie the cords of the yoke of the oppressed?