Saturday, September 01, 2007

True Fasting

Isaiah 58 is an interesting passage to me.

God says that day after day the people have sought Him out. They seem eager to know His ways and eager for Him to come near to them. They ask 'Why have fasted and you, God, have not seen it? Why have you not noticed that we have humbled ourselves?"

But God responds. Oh, He responds. "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please.... You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD ? 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 him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"

I have done several long fasts in the last 12 years. I started fasting after reading Dr. Bright's book The Coming Revival followed by The Transforming Power of Fasting and Prayer. I wonder how often my spirituality even fasting is just lying in sack cloth and ashes. Am I really just like the pharisee in Luke 18 who fasted twice a week and it was just a religious activity?

I want my heart to be a heart that desires to see the chains of injustice loosened. I want to see the oppressed set free. I want to be willing share food with the hungry and provide shelter for the poor wanderer. I want to clothe those who are naked and not turn away from others in need.

I want to 'fast' for 40 days starting today. But not a fast from food like in the past. I want to fast from myself and selfishness. I want to spend 40 days thinking of others. I want to serve others for the next 40 days. Yes, I want to mourn and prayer for revival in our land and across the world. I want to see God's spirit move among students. But I want to live our Phil 2:1-11. I want to wake up every day and think, "How can I serve Robin today? How can I serve Luke, Jack and Drew? How can I serve those I work with? How can I serve people around me? I want to be willing like the Good Samaritan to serve my neighbor in need that God may bring across my path. I want to think of how I can minster to those oppressed, hungry, naked, with a home."

"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. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

"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. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

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