Fast Forward

Devotional

The Fast God Has Chosen

In Isaiah 58, we see an account of the nation of Israel fasting before God. The people began to complain when God didn’t respond to their fast. But God did answer, just not in the way they wanted Him to. He said that their fasting had been half-hearted. It was under the guise of humility and wanting to please Him but without real evidence. While they fasted and cried out for justice for themselves, they were unjust and oppressive to their workers. Their fasts were full of quarrels, fights, and malicious talk. This was not the kind of fast that God wanted.

The strange thing about fasting is you can abstain from food while still gorging on pride, arrogance, or a religious spirit. But that won’t cut it with God—He cares about the heart! Fasting is more than an outward ritual. God said to Israel, “Don’t be a Pharisee, don’t be religious, and don’t let this be only compulsory. Let it be genuine and from the heart.”

The Israelites were putting on a facade of holiness. Their fasting was for show, but the fasting the Lord had chosen was utterly different. God’s chosen fast has the power to loosen chains of injustice, set people free, provide food and shelter to the needy, and heal the sick. The fast God has chosen is one where He is in the midst, where we can hear His voice, and where prayers are answered.

If you’re fasting while sinning, fighting, gossiping, and hurting others, your fast is ineffective. You might as well grab a burger. Take a moment today and examine your heart. Ask God to bring to light any hypocrisy. Repent of your sin. Turn away from it. Pursue the fast that God has chosen.