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? – Isaiah 58:6-7
Usually, when we think of fasting we are focusing on ourselves and how the fast will affect us – what foods we are giving up, what disciplines need to be established, etc. In this verse God Himself is telling us the type of fast that He desires and the focus is not on meeting the needs of the one fasting. Instead fast we should be focused meeting the needs of others.
God’s desire is for service and unity. Our natural inclination is for selfishness and isolation. Times of fasting are not just about what we are saying no to, but shifting the focus from ourselves to God and other people. This is why Jesus made such a big deal about fasting. It was an expected discipline for His followers because you cannot be effective in the kingdom if you are so selfish and self-focused that you cannot perceive the needs of those around you. Fasting is one of the ways that we humble ourselves and get our big heads out of the way so we and others can see Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, I love You and thank You for everything You do for me. Help me to humble myself and to stop focusing on myself so much. What is on Your heart and mind today? Help me to really see other people and fill me with Your love and concern for them. Help me to see their needs and give me the wisdom and grace to meet the needs I can in Jesus’ name. Amen.