It’s our first day after completing the 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed. Let’s commit to pray daily for Naghmeh and her children. During the fast, our main purpose was to cry out with one voice for Pastor Saeed’s release from prison. Yet we’ve experienced other benefits too, ranging from breakthroughs in certain problem areas to better health.
As my friend Tonya put it, “I’ve been caffeine free for 23 days and I haven’t hurt anyone yet.” Another friend says fasting brought more focus to her prayers. She’s decided to do further fasting as she seeks God’s guidance and direction. Dear friends, time spent seeking the Lord is never wasted.
Yesterday, I shared my Top 10 Takeaways from our fast. Today, I’m reflecting on what God says in His word about fasting in Isaiah 58. I’m learning what matters most to Him when we fast. You might call this “God’s Top 10 Takeaways.”
God first says some hard words to people who seemed very religious. They even fasted with sackcloth and ashes, crying out for God to hear their prayers. They tried to show off their own righteousness through prayer, fasting, and humbling themselves, but only on the surface. “God, why didn’t you respond to our fasting in sackcloth and ashes?” they cry out. But God saw what went on behind the scenes when no one was looking. They were self serving, took advantage of their workers, and oppressed the poor. Click here to read God’s full list of complaints against them. “Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,” says the Lord. “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high (Isaiah 58:4). Then He adds, “This is the kind of fasting I want.”
God’s Top 10 Takeaways from a Fast (Isaiah 58:6-10 NLT)
1. Free those who are wrongly imprisoned.
2. Lighten the burden of those who work for you.
3. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
4. Share your food with the hungry.
5. Give shelter to the homeless.
6. Give clothes to those who need them,
7. Do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8. Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
9. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors.
10. Help those in trouble.
When our fast includes pouring our life out to the hurting and broken, God promises something amazing will happen: “Then your light will rise in the darkness. Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I (Isaiah 58: 8,9 NIV).