True Fasting Week 01
Most years, a few days before Lent, I start to wonder what I ought to give up this year. Will it be chocolate, caffeine, alcohol or perhaps social media?! The idea of fasting during Lent is really to help our hearts and minds focus more clearly on God. But sometimes, as with any spiritual discipline, fasting can become an act without meaning, like a prayer said that is merely thoughtless words mumbled, or a worship song sung without a worshipping heart. God isn’t interested in superficial outward show, he is interested in who we are deep down.
This Lent we are going to focus on the challenge given by the prophet Isaiah and ask the question – What is true fasting?
Isaiah 58 is a powerful prophecy where God calls his people out on their insincere worship, their fruitless acts of piety and their injustice towards the poor and oppressed. God’s people are engaged in the religious ritual of fasting but God turns their ideas upside down and shows them what true fasting really is:
- To give up hypocrisy and instead turn to God in true repentance
- To give up false worship and instead display real heart-felt humility
- To give up inequality, discrimination and maltreatment and instead ‘loose the chains of injustice’
- To give up oppression and cruelty and instead ‘break every yoke’
- To not give up food to impress others or ‘look good’ but to share with the hungry
- To give up the mindset of gain and replace it with a mindset of generosity
- To give up your time to bless your friends and family.
- To give up on nasty talk but instead be kind, be encouraging, be wise
- To give up on nasty gossip but instead bless others
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”
In this verse we see that God’s people were acting like they loved him, twice Isaiah writes ‘they SEEM eager’, but it’s all superficial. God wants to break through our super spiritual ‘Sunday face’, to bring into the light our self-obsessed desire to keep up our appearances.
Chuck Colson writes “Lent affords us the opportunity to search the depths of our sin and experience the heights of God’s love.” It is not a bad thing that our sin is revealed because it keeps us humble and it draws us close to God’s unconditional love. It’s why Jesus died for us after all. Remember this when you are embarrassed for some faux pas in front of a neighbour – God is keeping you humble, your sin is not staying hidden to fester but is being brought out into the light to be healed.
This Lent, we invite you to join us as we seek to truly fast through practicing generosity, humility and fighting against injustices as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter.
Written by Sarah Hardiker and Sarah Small