Isaiah 58:6-9 Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
I find it interesting what God say the purpose and the focus of a fast should be. The emphasis is not on what I’m giving up, but about how I treat other people. The greatest evil stems from pride and selfishness which are functions of the flesh – our fallen sin nature. Is it any wonder that God chose fasting as a necessary discipline? Jesus said, “…when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites…” (Matthew 6:16). Fasting isn’t about showing others how spiritual you are, it’s about getting your flesh out of the way so you can hear God and see others.
Fasting is not optional in the kingdom, it is essential. When we fast, we are actively crucifying our flesh (Galatians 5:24), humbling ourselves, and to focus on serving others. You are not to be your priority during a fast – that’s the whole point. We are to focus on God, His word, and serving other people.
In Matthew 17:21, the disciples could not cast a demon out of a boy. Jesus told them, “…this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” The demon plagued the boy even harming him. If we are to have power over generational darkness, we need to be more like Jesus by increasing in the humility, service, and power that comes through fasting.
As we are on this fast, don’t spend your time focusing on food or what you are giving up. Instead, use your time and energy to pray and to get into God’s word. Out of drawing nearer to God, we should be drawing nearer to what He loves – other people. Look for ways to serve your spouse, your kids, or your neighbors. Let the other person go ahead of you in traffic. Let them have the last shopping cart at the store. When we humble ourselves and discipline ourselves for service, you will be surprised by how mightily God can use you, even in the small everyday moments in life.
Jesus, I love You and thank You for today. You are wonderful and a servant to all. Help me to be more like You. Holy Spirit I ask that You fill me today. Give me an opportunity to pray for someone else’s needs, to serve someone else’s interests. Help me to crucify my flesh, and to be more like You in my heart and mind, as well as in my relationships and conduct. Amen.