Has the thought of setting aside a time of Prayer and Fasting been tickling your brain? Do you need God to intervene, answer a big question, help change the course of your life (or the life of a loved one)? Dear Prayer Warrior, a Time of Fasting is a great way to Pray Harder but, beware there are ways to ruin a Time of Fasting.
Last week we covered 5 of the reasons God Calls His People to Fast with Hope. I know what you’re thinking, the next logical step in our series should have been “How To Fast”. But Y’all, the Bible actually says more about How Not To Fast. It warns us about many ways we ruin a Time of Fasting – so often – I felt it had to be addressed first.
Honestly, a better title for this article would have been:
How To have a Time of Fasting that is an abomination to God
That is the kind of language God uses in the Bible when He is getting after people for Ruining a Fast. Intense right?!?!?!?!
One area that is not in today passage- but we see the Scripture address in other places – is Forgiveness. When we are struggling to forgive (or refusing to Forgive) there is a separation between us and God – that will stop Him from answering our Prayers (Matthew 6:14-15)
I spent a lot of years Bitter in refusing to Forgive others (even God).
But God showed me a Pathway to forgiveness and I’d love to share it with you!
We will begin today in Isaiah 58. The scene is set with the Israelites in a Time of Prayer and fasting but God is not happy. He tells Isaiah not to spare the people’s feelings as he calls out their sin:
“Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins.
God sees sin in the way they are fasting. He then goes on to list some things – things I tend to think are good…
- They seek Me day by day
- Delight to know My ways
- As a nation that has done righteousness
- And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
- They ask Me for just decisions
- They delight in the nearness of God.
But you see, God is not fooled by our Outward appearance.
God looks at our heart – at the motives for our actions – and judges that. What looks like good behavior to me (a recovering legalist) didn’t fool God. We get a glimpse of their heart with verse 3.
3 ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
But their church game didn’t fool God. God saw the things they were hiding in their behavior
- On the day of your fast you find your desire
- And drive hard all your workers.
- You fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
- You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
- Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed.
- And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
- Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
What exactly Did God see that was not Acceptable for a day or Time of Fasting?
Fasting was a habit for the Israelites, a religious Ritual they were following to get a response from God.
This passage is an amazing What Not To Do in a Time of Fasting!
- Do Not Fast out of Habit alone
- Don’t put expectation on God
- or get angry with God for not bowing to our demands
- Don’t take Pride in your fasting
- Fasting isn’t an excuse to be grouchy
- The Israelites were easily aggravated at others
- Using their Fasting as an excuse to take frustration out on others.
- It also should not be a time to neglect our normal responsibilities
Lest we judge the Israelites, these are common habits.
We see examples of similar warnings in the Old and New Testament when God’s people think they have a magic formula to get God to do what they desire.
When we Add scripture to our Prayers they become strategic and powerful.
I’ve pulled over 100 verses that you can use to Pray for Support, Unity and Financial Blessings. Download them below!
Fasting is not a way to Force God to act or move according to my will.
Honestly, the prompting to Fast can be about our need but, at the heart of it has to be our desire to humbly draw near to the heart of God. And let go of any expectations of him – allowing his will to be done.
Next we’ll look at the How To’s of Fasting and learn how to prepare our Heart to Draw near to God as we seek Him. Hope you’ll join me then 😉