Yesterday I shared how fasting and prayer can affect world events click here for Fasting & Shaping History. Today I'd like to talk about the two kinds of fasting described in Isaiah 58. One is a fast motivated by pride and religion. The second is the fast that God chooses.
A religious fast that is motivated primarily by pride and works yields works that God takes no notice in. Their prayers for justice go unheard and their affliction is unseen by God. Why?
'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?' "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. NKJV
God won't hear because the purpose of the fast primarily motivated by pride. Pride blinds a person from God's righteousness therefore their prayers and actions are misdirected. They are not right. Their prayer and actions do not line up with God's word. This is evidenced by how they exploit or take advantage of people and secondly misdirected justice. Wicked is the root word of wicker like in wicker furniture. It's called wicker because it is twisted. Wicked means twisted or evil. Therefore justice is misguided and correction is brought in wickedness. James sheds some light as to why this is.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. NKJV
The Fast That God Chooses
The Fast that God chooses yields very different results. Isaiah 58 starting in verse 6 lists the benefits as well as some of the characteristics of God's chosen fast. Those characteristics include:
The fast that God chooses is one way you can deny yourself and carry your cross (Luke 9:23, Matthew 8:34). Jesus adds to the teaching on fasting saying don't fast as the hypcrites do in Matthew 6:16-18. Their motive is wrong. The root issue here is again pride. This is why Jesus urges us to fast in secret. When we combine the lessons of Isaiah 58 with Matthew 6:16-18 we can enjoy the following benefits.