Isaiah 58:6,7 “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? 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?”

     Fasting for the wrong reasons does more harm than good to a person’s spiritual health.  If you’re looking to score holy points with others or seeking  blessings for yourself by fasting then you’re out of God’s Will.  God isn’t impressed with what you keep out of your mouth if you do it for self-interest.
   
Isaiah 58:6,7  provides a clear standard by which to evaluate statements about the ‘benefits’ of fasting; “What is the secret to deeper intimacy with the Lord? How can I know God’s perfect will? How can I release the anointing, favor and blessing of God in my life?  For me, fasting has been the answer to these and other deep questions—the key for obtaining open doors, miraculous provision, favor and the tender touch of God upon my life. I was on a three-day fast when God called me to preach. I was on a 21-day fast when our ministry received its first $1 million gift.” (Jentezen Franklin)

     Jesus tells us to keep fasting to ourselves; “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)  The reward we get for fasting is the reward our heart deserves.  Merchandising fasting paraphernalia and extolling what fasting can do for you is hardly in keeping with Jesus’ teachings.

     Mike Bennett tells us: “Like anything, the spiritual tool of fasting can be misused. The proper use of fasting will humble us (Psalm 35:13), but Jesus Christ warned us against using fasting to feed our pride—to make other people think more highly of us. ‘Wow, he’s fasting again—he must be very righteous and close to God!’ is the kind of reaction these hypocrites wanted.”

     What are the benefits of fasting the way God desires?  God’s Word tells us: ““If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable,  And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13,14)

     The words of Isaiah pierce my heart; ‘And [do] not hide yourself from your own flesh . . . .’  The truth is, my flesh is  hungry for what the world can give me!   Jesus tells us that when we fast  giving up the desire and appetite for this world’s rewards for our own flesh, we will be blessed by His provision; “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

     Oh Lord, help me to fast in this way!

     Come Lord Jesus!

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