Lent, 40 days leading up to Good Friday and Easter, is kept as a time a spiritual preparation, self-denial, and selfless service. It is not too much to say that Lent and fasting are linked together. In fact, my friend, Alicia Britt Chole, has written a wonderful little devotional and prayer guide that many use during Lent entitled 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. I recommend it highly!
This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I read and reflected on a great Old Testament passage in which the Lord Himself speaks to the issue of the kind of fasting that He desires! It prompted me to write this principle in the margin of my Bible: “True fasting is not simply what you deny yourself of, it’s what you devote yourself to!”
The passage? Isaiah 58:6-12
“This is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply. Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.” (From the New Living Translation)
In other words, God through His prophet warns us… Beware when fasting simply becomes an institutionalized religious exercise – something thought of as an expected “religious activity” practiced during “Lent” – it needs to be more than that for God to be impressed and honor it! Don’t know about you, but during Lent I want to do the kind of “fasting” that makes a difference – the kind that accomplishes what God desires! Help me Lord!