“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”
Did you know that the proper way to fast does NOT include a fast for the sick and shut-in? Notice that it is not mentioned in the above scripture. Yet, many in Christendom go through great lengths to fast with the sad face, loud crying, or even speaking with other tongues (but not as the Spirit of God gave the utterance).
God said, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
The question is … who is eligible to call for the elders of the church? The disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, first and foremost, and, others to whom God will be gracious and show mercy.
Psalm 91:14-15 says, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”
Here we see, those who set their love upon the Lord have the right and privilege to call on Him in prayer; He will answer and grant their requests.
Proverbs 1:28-30 says, “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.”
This group to whom the Lord will not answer is self-explanatory—they hate God’s knowledge; they do not fear nor reverence Him; there is no awe nor terror of the Lord in their hearts. They are unbelievers and scorners who provoke and abhor the word of God. And this is why they will not be heard when they pray—but they shall eat the fruit of their own way.
We have learned, the Lord ‘…will be gracious to whom He will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom He will show mercy’ (Exodus 33:19).
Now, with things being said, let us turn our focus to be mindful and knowledgeable of the right and proper fast … which God approves. This type of fast will provoke us to love and good works AND to love in deed and in truth through justice, kindness, and charity.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING BRIEF KEY POINTS IN ISAIAH 58:6-7:
- To loose the bands of wickedness—Dissolve every unjust tie.
- To undo the heavy burdens—Loose all yokes of unjust judgment.
- Let the oppressed go free—Do not maltreat the grievously burdened.
- You break every yoke—Cease from all oppression and slavery.
- Deal your bread to the hungry—Distribute among the poor and needy, as a father does to his children. (See: Job 31:16-22).
- You bring the poor who are cast out to your house—Hospitality towards all men is the call, prudently.
- When you seest the naked—Naturally, cover the naked … spiritually, cover a multitude of sin with charity out of a pure heart.
- You hide not yourself from your own flesh—Do not hide from your own kindred who depend upon you; be not ashamed of them, nor withhold their supply of needs.
As we can see from our focal scripture and brief key points, ‘proper fasting’ acceptable to the Lord requires us to avoid the stereotypical fasts of worldly minded church folks. The Lord warns us not to be partakers. Then, He will answer us in time of need.
We have decided to honor and obey the Lord by not doing our own ways in the fast; not finding our own pleasure in the fast; not speaking our own words in the fast—but rather doing what is outlined in Isaiah 58. Knowing that, we will receive the promise of the Lord—our light will break forth as the morning and our health will spring forth speedily. Our righteousness will go before us AND the glory of the LORD will be our rereward.
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