>Fasting for Real

>Part of my passion for the written word, it word study. I love to read older texts, discover their original language and unearth new found meaning in the specific words that are used in that passage. This is also one of my favorite ways to journal scripture. I will read a passage, re-read it in a number of different translations (NIV, NLT, NKJ, Amplified, even the Message) and look for phrasing among the verses. The other day I was doing this with Isaiah 58:1-14. The overall determination was that the act of fasting has very little, if anything to do with the actual action. In the day of the prophet Isaiah, the Israelites were very good at the religion and terrible at the relationship. Some of the adjetives that were used in this scripture (through the different versions listed above) include pious, rightous, pretending. The Amplified Bible even stated it in this way: “delight [externally] to know my ways in visible ways (verse 2).” Then the question that gets to the point is found in verse 5, “is true fasting merely mechanical?”
Fasting is a genuine way of denying yourself to know God in a deeper and greater way. That pleases him and God has promised to answer us at that time. But so many are “busy at worship” (Message) and give off the appearances of righ-living people and take that day of fasting to “show off their humility.” The reality is we can do all of the actions, but if our heart and soul then He will never be pleased with our offering. In verses 9b-10 and 13-14 you find the analogies: if–>then. God tells us very plainly that if we seek to be more like him, feeding the hungry, freeing the oppressed, helping those who need it, then he will answer our prayers. he said, “Then you will call and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help and he will say, Here I am.” I believe that we get so caught up in letting people know that we are Christ followers, that we forget to actually follow Christ. I can go to church on Sundays, but if I am cussing at people who cut me off in traffic, I am no better than the person who never steps foot in a church and pulls out a gun and shoots his brother in anger. In the same way, if we say we believe one thing (the Bible) and then live opposite of what it says (not forgiving one another, living with boyfriends or girlfriends before marriage, indulging in drunkeness, even the simple white lies) God will turn from us and not answer our prayers. We as a people of God need to rid ourselves of the slefishness of “whatever I want” and cling to the cross where Jesus said, “all for God.” My prayer is that we look at fasting as not just another ritual to add, but take it as a time to let go of our selfishness and look to God and what He wants from us and how we can live to bring Him all of the glory He rightfully deserves.

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