Isaiah 58 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?”
God’s message through Isaiah about fasting is often lost in the absence of context. So to be true to the larger picture, God used fasting as a means to change the hearts of His people. He had chosen this time, but their day of fasting had not altered their behavior. In context, the poor remained hungry; fighting and arguing were still prevalent; and the less fortunate were being mishandled. God desired a fast in order to subdue greed and pride. He was looking for a change in their actions, but ultimately they went through the motions without allowing the sacrifice to do its intended work. God said, “Is this fast only for a day? No change of spirit? No humility; no heart?” They fasted, but still exploited their workers. They fasted, but were still bitter towards one another. It was ritual without relationship. Isaiah wrote that the fast was to break chains and tear down strongholds, but the routine had become ceremonial and ultimately lost its purpose.
Fasting is not just about giving up food. It is certainly not a weight-loss program. Fasting is about crucifying the most natural desires of the flesh. It’s about an introspective look into the recesses of the heart and mind to change the disposition of the person who makes the sacrifice.
I submit that worship, giving, and prayer can become a ritual. Any repeated action can develop into a function of the body. Just because someone declares that they go to church every Sunday, does not mean that they have a heart for sacrifice. Without the heart, singing is nothing more than a function and prayer only a recital. God desires for our hearts to be changed and our actions to follow in like manner. Chains must be broken and anointing must flow.
Therefore, in this time of prayer and fasting, I submit that we seek for a change of heart. It is imperative that we use the time wisely and consider the condition of our lives. David said it this way…
Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole