Several years ago, I decided to fast, coordinated with a church-wide Bible study in which I was participating. During this exercise, we were encouraged to perform our usual daily activities and during the time we usually took for eating, we should spend it in prayer and meditation. At first, I thought I would only be able to fast for 24 hours but after the first day, I realized that I was able to extend it for another day. During the fast, I attempted to focus upon the sustenance of God and found it to be a fulfilling experience. After the fast, I shared my experiences with others in the Bible study group and nearly all of us agreed it was a good spiritual exercise. However, I have never fasted again since this study and I have always wondered if I should be fasting more frequently.
“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.”
Isaiah 58:5-6 (NLT)
I was recently challenged by this definition of prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. Fasting is much more than a short-time denial of food, it is about sacrificing one’s time and effort for the purpose of serving God. Fasting does not have to end with the restarting of meals, it is a continual spiritual state. It is an action that seeks to care for God’s Creation by extending the same grace and mercy that He offers to all of us. When we fast, we voluntarily give up the comforts of our life by contributing our most valuable resources to those who are less fortunate. This may take the form of time, financial resources, or service. Whatever the sacrifice, it should be performed without fanfare or trumpeting one’s actions to serve others.
There are many levels of fasting. Thanks be to God for redefining my understanding of fasting. It is a continual spiritual sacrifice to serve God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.