Scripture | Isaiah 58:6-7
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
Fasting. What a wonderful gift from God to the body of Christ. Technically speaking, it’s any period of time that we spend not eating. When we wake up in the morning, the first meal of the day is known as “break-fast”, termed breakfast. It’s a meal that literally breaks the fasting period of a night’s rest. Conventionally, as a spiritual practice, it’s the art of intentionally afflicting the flesh by denial of food for a measure of time.
Over the years we’ve managed to get very creative in our fasting efforts. Today, we’ve transferred the principle of sacrifice that fasting requires and parlayed the traditional denial of food into ‘fasting’ or abstaining from things like television, social media and attending desired events. While these are all great sacrifices to make, and yes, sacrifice is essential to fasting, there’s often a missing key component to fasting that pleases God—giving.
In Isaiah 58, God gives explicit instruction on the purpose of fasting, it’s criteria and it’s prognosis. He differentiates between the carnal and self-seeking way of fasting and His divinely demanded fast. God requires “shar[ing] your food with the hungry and provid[ing] the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, clothe them, and turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV). God is most definitely interested in the sacrificial element of our fasting practices, for sacrifice is the foundation of fasting. But God is even more interested in what we do with the sacrifices that we make for Him during fasting terms.
Pleasing God is all about finishing what He’s given you to do. Sacrificing is the start of the fasting experience but giving in your sacrifice to those in need is what fulfills the initiative of fasting. This is the fast that is pleasing unto the Lord. So ask yourself this question: What will I not only sacrifice and abstain from during this fast, but who will I bless as a result of my sacrifice? What valuables and resources can I exchange from my hand to someone else’s, satisfying God’s true standard for fasting? Blessing others with our sacrifices to God; now that’s what a fast that is pleasing to the Lord looks like!
Lord, help me to fast the right way—in sacrifice and in giving. Amen.