Fasting will open doors for you–if you do it right.
Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell My people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about Me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask Me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near Me.
“We have fasted before You!” they say. “Why aren’t You impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and You don’t even notice it!”
I will tell you why! I respond. It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with Me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?
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. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” He will quickly reply.
Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 58, emphasis mine).
Today is the first day of a three day fast at my church. I will be fasting for four days because Saturday is my weekly fasting day, being the Sabbath. I admit that I don’t always join corporate fasts just because if it’s not the Holy Spirit urging me to fast, then I struggle (food obsession being a real problem in my life). But this time the church and Spirit are in perfect agreement.
At Bible study last week, Shekinah (our pastor) led us through Isaiah 58 (above). This struck a note with me on many levels. But first we need to recognize that a fast without prayer is just a crash diet: as bad for the body as it is for the spirit.
There are many different ways to fast (this list is by no means complete):
- Moses fasted on nothing at all: no food, no water for forty days, and then another forty days, so eighty days altogether. Obviously, this was supernaturally supported because in most cases a person will die after a week without water. Moses went over two and a half months without food or water. I don’t recommend a Moses fast unless God Himself tells you to do it.
- Then there’s the water only fast. Gandhi did a water only fast for three weeks. Others have done it for as long as forty days. Since we’re only talking three or four days, this one is doable, but I wouldn’t do it for a long fast.
- A juice fast is an excellent way to cleanse the body. I have done a forty day juice fast, which is basically nothing that would have to be chewed. What I like about the juice fast is that there is very little preparation and cleanup. So I devote the time saved to prayer.
- A Daniel fast is also very healthy, though I’ve never done it myself.
- You can also do a fast of something you really like. I have a friend who does a chocolate fast each year for lent.
- There are also habit fasts, some of which could lead to permanent behavior change:
- Cigarettes, alcohol, or gambling are all bad habits that you might consider fasting.
- Gossip, arguing, or negative speech are also bad habits you could fast.
- Related to that last one is a total silence fast—be sure to warn family and friends first!
- Social media or video gaming are things you could consider fasting from, too—especially if they are taking up too much of your time and attention.
- And related to the above: a total electronic fast (no television, computer, tablet, or phone). I’ve done this and it is very soul cleansing. You’d be surprised how much negativity comes across those various devices.
The common thing in each of these different kinds of fasts is to take your attention off of yourself. Every time I start to think of myself, I take my attention back to God in prayer. And doing it that way, how can you help but get closer to God?
So this morning I went back over Isaiah 58, and here’s how I prayed (using NKJV, not NLT, as above):
Lord, please help me not to fast with strife and debate. Help me not to smite with the fist of wickedness. And help me not to seek pleasure as I fast. But please, Lord, guide me continually. Satisfy my soul as I fast.
Please help me to make this a fast that is truly acceptable to You! Help me to honor You as I fast on the Sabbath.
let this fast:
- Loose the bands of wickedness in my life.
- Undo the heavy burdens, and help me to know that You will help me supernaturally.
- Let the oppressed go so that I can know true freedom, especially the freedom from the bondage of food obsession. And
- Break every yoke of oppression and obsession in my life.
I declare that the defeated enemy has no more power over me. I serve the One and Only Living God of the Universe. Amen, alleluia!
Happy fasting, dear friends! God is good!