I begin my day entering into your presence Jesus my Lord.
I will continue my reflection from yesterday on the season of Lent and Ash Wednesday. In yesterday’s blog I explained what is the season of Lent in the church. It is a 40 day period of self reflection and, repentance and preparation while looking ahead to Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and conquering of deqth. During Lent, most Christians use three things as aides to help them focus, listen and pray to God: Fasting from things, Service/taking on things, and Prayer
FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that's not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, tv, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do? Read Isaiah chapter 58
SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can take on more times set aside to read your Bible. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to tutor children, or work for reform and justice in your community. You can commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend every day of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God. Read Isaiah chapter 58.
PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can set aside times to pray daily, prayer walk, use the Prayer Wheel daily, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.
I am going to reflect deeper on the means of grace of fasting. I believe it is the one thing of the three above most people have the most difficulty understanding. Isaiah chapter 58 is my go to chapter when trying to explain fasting.
"Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
3 'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
God, when I read your inspired words through Isaiah, I understand the fast that You choose for me is a fast from my flesh, a fast from selfishness and self-centeredness. It's a fast that frees me from the tyranny of my self and turns my heart to the things on Your heart.
Give me Your heart, Lord. Open my eyes to see the needs of those around me and fill my spirit with the power to do something about it. Give me time and passion for people like you have, in the ways that I can make a difference. Let me be part of the move of Your Spirit in my city and spheres of influence to rebuild the "ancient ruins," to "raise up the foundations of many generations" and "be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets" (v. 58:12). Let me first seek these things in me.
Fasting is not about ancient rituals or even faithfully executing spiritual disciplines. Fasting is about putting You first, as Your Spirit overcomes my flesh so You can change the world around me through my life. This is the fast You choose. (v. 5) So by the power of the grace of God at work within me, let this be the fast I choose. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
My family, I pray today you will reflect on the question, “What is the fast you choose for me God?” I pray you will reflect on what forms of fasting, service and prayer God wants to use in these upcoming 40 days to draw you back into deep discipleship with him. in Jesus' name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!