In many Christian circles, some sort of New Year fast has become the order of the day. Countless ministries will engage in Daniel type or 21 day fasts to begin the New Year. Fasting, when done in accordance with the Word of God, is always commendable. But it concerns me that much of the fasting occurring during the month of January has become nothing more than a fad or merely religious.
The Bible warns us against fasting for the wrong reasons with those type reasons being anything that does not align with the will of God. In Isaiah 58, the Lord reveals the type of fasting that pleases Him. Fasting, then, is not to be self motivated or self glorifying but all about God and His agenda.
In verses 1-4, Israel is indicted for her transgression which is identified as “defective worship”. Specifically, Israel was embracing the wrong concept of fasting. They were consistent in worship and sacrifice but purely selfish in their true motivation!
So in verse 1, the instruction is to “Cry aloud, spare not (do not hold back); Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.” Verses 3 and 4 reveal the heart of their transgression – selfishness and unrighteousness!
Zechariah 7:4-7, reminds us that fasting is to be about godly motive and attitude. “Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?’ ”
In other words, God pleasing fasting requires unselfish motives aso well as attitudes and actions of righteousness and obedience!
Keep in mind as we continue this particular post on fasting, the Bible commends fasting! We should fast and pray but we should fast according to the Word of God and not the traditions of men. Stay tuned for Part 2.
And Stay On Target!