Fasting. Ugh. Going without food? Some do it for a discipline. Some do it to cleanse their body. Some do it as a spiritual discipline. While I try to make it a regular habit, it so often it becomes stale, a spark for angry bursts at God. Isaiah spoke about this in Isaiah 58.
“Israel asked, ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not [a]notice?’
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.”
You say you want to hear God, and seek Him. And yet how do you live?
“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing [b]one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?”
God does not care about the motions we take, how we look. In Matthew 5, Jesus talked about fasting looking as normal as another day. God cares about our hearts. How are we showing Him to the people around us?
7 “Is it not to divide your bread [c]with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
What does that mean in the modern day? Does it mean passing out food at homeless shelters? Or to people on the street corner? How will you relate to people in the world? How does your heart change? How well do I listen?
Fasting is a way to learn to listen. It is a focus on spiritual replenishing by using the demands of the body as a tool to focus our distracted minds on God. Do I live in love to Him or just make it a duty?
God, I want to learn to love You more, and listen, and see where You want me to go. Its not comfortable, but it is real. His strength, not mine, to get through the day. Amen.