I have recently been studying more about fasting. And I mean fasting for the purpose of prayer. In my research I found this passage of scripture and it really resonates with me:
Apparently there is a WRONG way to fast. We can do many good things for all the wrong reasons. Christ talked about this in Matthew 6, that we are to overtly pain ourselves. Instead we are to wash our faces, make ourselves as we normally would. Not that we can't tell others, but not to make a big deal about it. And here we see that the Israelites too had wrong reasons for fasting.
Isaiah 58:3-9 (New King James Version)3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
I find it difficult to have a pure reason for fasting. Scripture tells us that the thoughts of mans heart is only evil all the time. That doesn't leave much room for goodness in us.
I am fasting today. I have felt the Lord move me to fast over the brokenness in my heart. I fasted last tuesday and will next tuesday. Then we'll see what more He wants of me. And I can't say that anything magical has happened. But He is answering prayer. He has sent me to the word and He has shown me His truth about Him. Read the next part of the Isaiah passage:
I just read this today. The Lord has shown me I am to pray for freedom, liberty for this broken situation. There is a yoke, a burden, an oppression. And I pray for liberty from this. The Lord has shown me I cannot break this, I cannot heal this, I cannot change this on my own strength. I am weak and unable. So I go to Him. And He has shown me that He breaks yokes and sets the captives free.6 “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
And then look what happens:
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And 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.’
And He has already said to me "here I am."
And He protects.