Text – Isa. 58:1-14
There are some principles in this scripture that we need to take note of. From vs 3-5, we see the kind of fast that is not acceptable to God and from verse 6-12, we see the kind of fast well pleasing to God. The fault with the first kind of fasting lies mainly in the motive and attitudes of those practicing it. What is your motive and attitude to this particular fast? God is interested in motives and attitudes. Fasting was mainly an acceptable part of religious ritual, the kind of fasting practiced by the Pharisees. Fasting without real repentance or self-humility. They continued with all their normal secular affairs, they retained all their evil attitudes some of which are greed, selfishness, pride and oppression.
Selfishness – This is very common today. If you study the behaviour of babies, you will discover that you are born with selfishness, babies usually want to monopolize their mom and always try to draw attention to themselves. Nobody teaches us how to be selfish because it is inborn. It is all about ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘myself’, ‘my thing’, ‘my own’. It takes the grace of God for one to look inwards and say ‘God please help me to drop these things, let my life begin to flow out in the name of Jesus’. Selfish people are great losers, a life that is not flowing out is like a dead sea that is just accumulating everything that flows inside. Self-seekers are great losers. Selfishness is another form of idolatry – idolatry of self.
Most people are selfish and they carry it to ridiculous heights. Selfishness short circuits blessings. Once there is that selfish tendency in you, God will not find space to bless you. When a selfish person comes into the presence of God, he begins to project self and what you project is what people see. God has the ability to x-ray your heart and pick the minutest thing you are trying to hide. One of the reasons why people don’t prosper is because they try to cover sin and the Bible says that he that covers his sin will not prosper (Prov. 28:13). It is astonishing how people try to cover what should be exposed and expose what should be covered. It is amazing to come into the presence of the omnipotent, omniscient God and still be pretentious. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were naked but not ashamed but immediately they sinned, they looked for leaves to cover their nakedness. God, in his wisdom and mercy intervened and showed them that for sin to be covered, there must be shedding of blood. The Bible says, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). Pray – Lord, I don’t want my fasting to be blocked. I don’t want to fast in hypocrisy, you know everything that concerns me, I open my heart to you, I lay it bare before you and I ask you to please remove every trace of selfishness from my heart, remove this evil seed of selfishness that has blocked so many blessings of mine, I ask you, O, God to roll it away. Remove iniquity of self-centredness and give me the right heart in the name of Jesus. Help me O, Lord, never to be self-centred any more. I appropriate the blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ, I soak my heart in the precious blood of Jesus and I receive cleansing from selfishness in the name of Jesus. I am sanctified because of the blood of Jesus. Amen.
Greed – Selfish people are usually very greedy. What is the origin of corruption? Lack of contentment! A greedy person is never satisfied; he is like a bottomless pit. It is greed that motivates most crimes and evil in the land today, no wonder the Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10A). Greed is another form of idolatry because it makes you love what you are pursuing above God. Remember, that whatever you place side by side God in your heart is your idol. Greed will want you to harvest what does not belong to you. Selfishness and greed walk hand in hand. Pray – Lord, I acknowledge that I have been greedy in many ways and I ask you to please forgive every trace of this defect in my life, take away greed and give me a contented heart and a heart that loves you more than gold in the name of Jesus. Grant me the grace, O Lord, to live a contented life all the days of my life in the name of Jesus. Please uproot every seed of greed in me and give me a right spirit in the name of Jesus.
Pride – This is one of the cheapest sins and anywhere you find selfishness and greed, pride is inevitable. It is another idolatry of self; elevating the love of self above the love of God. It has to do with not giving God his rightful place, his dues. There are different manifestations of pride: there is the pride of race (this has to do with where you come from), there is the pride of grace (taking the grace of God for granted), there is pride of redemption (I can fix it by myself, I can make it without God, I can redeem my inheritance). Pride raises carnal barriers. The dangerous thing about pride is that it is a vertical sin and that is the reason why God himself resists it. Pride is a serious endemic sickness, a very practical sin. There is pride of revelation. This is a religious pride that make people commonize God; it makes people feel that they can be saved apart from what Christ has done. A lot of people will end up in hell as a result of this pride.
Do you have a relationship with Christ? Does He know you? Do you really know Him? Are you living for Him? What God purpose are you fulfilling in your generation? Pride is an affront, a challenge to God. When pride matures, it produces the mystery of blasphemy. Pray – Lord, I present my heart before you, in any way that I have manifested this dangerous sin of pride in all its ramification, I repent, please forgive me, have mercy on me, cleanse me, I declare that without you I am nothing. Lord, I need you, please help me, I depend on you, I humble myself before you and I ask that you take control of my destiny. You are the porter and I am the clay, mold me, fill me and use me to the glory, praise and honour of your name. help me to discover what you have called me to do and to continue to do it satisfactorily. Help me to be committed to my relationship with you and to place you above every other thing in my heart. Make me a consecrated worshipper in spirit and truth. Thank you, mighty God, in Jesus name.
God is not only interested in our vertical relationship with him, so, in the place of fasting, it is necessary to look at your horizontal relationship as well. This is the ideal time to touch lives. Do you oppress others? Are you a blessing? Look back into the last 365 days, how many lives have you touched positively? Are you a healing agent? Are you carrying a wicked anointing? Are you an agent of enhancement or an agent of diminishing returns? How many people have you lifted? When Jesus comes, will he find fruits or leaves in you? Is your motive to crush or to lift people?
Pray – Lord, I ask you to help me, in any way that I have oppressed, I am sorry, please forgive me. From today, O Lord, re-direct my life in such a way that will testify to the glory and praise of your name. Make me to be fruitful and help me to walk with you. Let my Christianity begin to impact lives positively in practical ways in the name of Jesus. Make me a hand lifter; make me a healing agent in a sick world. Thank you, faithful God. I will never be an oppressor, I will be a deliverer in Jesus name.
Bowing down the head as a bulrush is a very deep description of certain forms of prayer still being practiced today by some orthodox Jews in which they rock to and fro with their heads repeating by rote set-prayers of which they scarcely understand the meaning. It is an outward manifestation of emptiness. This is showmanship and God is not interested in your outward showmanship of spirituality, he hates it and calls it hypocrisy. God is interested in the intensity of the word that is coming from your heart.
Verse 6 talks about the motive of an acceptable fast. Many yokes can never be broken except by fasting. There are demons that will never bow until you add fasting to your prayer and there are some that will never leave unless the deliverance minister is very anointed, prayerful and fasts regularly. Except you fast regularly, there are some levels of manifestation that you cannot operate in. Let part of your motive for this fast be the destruction of yokes and evil patterns in your life and family.
Verse 7 emphasizes attitude towards other people especially the needy and the oppressed – your horizontal relationship as mentioned earlier. Use this period of fasting to touch somebody’s life in a special way. Your gift expresses your value, it expresses your worship. Whoever sows the wind will reap the whirlwind. Away with every hypocrisy. Fasting will break every carnal barrier so that the glory of God may break forth in your life.
Verse 9-10 talks about the putting forth of the finger and speaking vanity which may be summed up in three words – legalism, criticism and insincerity. Get rid of insincerity. Don’t join any one to spread any false accusation against any man of God, this iniquity will only destroy the person or persons spreading it and not the man of God. Guard your heart and mind the things you open your ears to. Don’t go to Church with a heart full of iniquity.
Pray, Lord, I am sorry for any iniquity in my heart, let every iniquity dissolve and disappear. Let my horizontal relationship be perfect and help me not to be hypocritical in my relationship with you. Anything that is capable of truncating your move in my life, Lord, please, roll it away. Help me not to be an enemy of my own progress, in the name of Jesus.
Lord, I ask that you uphold me, guide me, shield me, and help me to guard my heart with all diligence in the name of Jesus. Let anything that is capable of obstructing the move of your spirit and glory in my life dissolve and disappear. As from today, let my relationship with you be perfect and let my relationship with my fellow brethren be excellent in the name of Jesus.
Lord, I depend on you in this fast, do that which only you can do in the name of Jesus. Touch the mountains and let them smoke, let everything that the enemy has ever used to mock your image and glory in my life dissolve and disappear, give me an enduring testimony. Thank you, mighty God, in Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen.