Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor. [The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high. Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord?Isaiah 58:3-7 (AMPC)
[Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house—when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
I think this is pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t have much to say. Other than that I get the idea that fasting is not just to get our own prayers answered, our own needs met; it’s also to intercede for others, to come before God on their behalf. And with fasting and praying, we should also be doing more: reaching out to those people, trying to help. It’s not enough to just pray for them, just stop eating for a day or so while we come before the Lord–if we can take action, actually do something, then we should. Yes, prayer is very important and very powerful! Yes, taking time out to completely focus on God and pray and read His Word is a good idea! But, like James 4:17 says: “He who knows he should do good and doesn’t do it, sins.” (my words) Or 1 John 3:17: “How does the love of God dwell in someone who has things (food, clothing, money, etc.), sees a fellow human being that is needy, but doesn’t help him?” (my words)
Also, fasting means going without food (or at least eating very little). But I think we could extend it to mean other things as well: fasting from Pinterest or Facebook or Instagram, fasting from eating out so much, fasting from spending so much money all the time, fasting from always traveling… Whatever. You fill in the blank. Go without something, give something up. At least for a little time, or maybe do it not as much. And then that could give you more time to listen and notice, more time to help, more time to pray.
Okay, so I had more to say than I thought. 😄 What do you all think?