Fasting is certainly not a new idea. In fact, it’s not even a New Testament idea. God’s people have been fasting for thousands of years. And like anything, over time, it’s easy to drift away from the original intent and purpose. Periodically, God had to step in and redirect them in their fasting.
One of those redirections happened in Isaiah’s day as God called out the nation of Israel for their religious fasting that was completely missing the mark. They were complaining that God wasn’t paying attention when they were fasting. Surprisingly, God agreed with them! He wasn’t paying attention to it because they were doing it for all the wrong reasons. Don’t forget: God isn’t after the outward actions, He cares more about the inward motivation. If we’re not careful, we can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. It’s easy to do that with fasting.
When Israel cried out to God, He answered (as He always does) by setting the record straight and reminding them He wants fasting to be about…
No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Isaiah 58:6–8 (NLT)
Here’s the lesson: fasting isn’t about empty religious rituals; it’s about full relationships. It’s meant to change us and improve relationships around us (freedom, lightening burdens, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless). While we abstain from food, we should be focused more on prayer and the people around us.
Here’s the best result of fasting the way God intended it: Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind!
Throughout September, as we pray daily and fast weekly, here are some things to pray for:
Awaken Pastors, Wives, and Families
Awaken Staff, Ministry Leaders, and Teams
Financial Provision and Generosity
More Team Members Serving
God’s Direction for the Future of Awaken
Awaken Military Members and Families
Singles, Marriages, and Families
K E V I N • M I L L E R
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