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True Fasting

During Lent, some Christians make fasting a regular part of their discipline. But what is fasting? In Isaiah 58:1-10 (NIV), the prophet presents a picture of fasting that takes this practice to a higher, light-giving level.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.

“For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

“‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

“Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.”

2 comments… add one
  • Martha Elder March 7, 2019, 12:45 PM

    I am so happy to be hearing from you again… your writings are a great inspiration to me and George.. We have moved back to Lookout, Stonedge, a lovely soace and for sure as we say “ a God Job”.. very blessed., so now maybe we can see you and Muftie.. Blessings and love, Martha E

    • John B. Phillips March 8, 2019, 8:35 AM

      Thanks very much, Martha. Glad to learn of your current location. Hope we see each other from time to time. Blessings to you and George.

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