Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Isaiah 58: 4 NRSV
If there is any verse in the Bible addressed to me, this one would be it.
I have a terrible time fasting. I do okay if I am among church members or strangers. But just let me fast while in the bosom of my family. Grrr. Watch out! I am going to strike out with my voice, my temper, my quick tongue. Me fasting is like a lit firecracker. It is going to go off eventually.
I guess one part of this verse that I need to hear is that God seems to be saying that those who are fasting are doing it in order to have an excuse to hurt other people. Instead of fasting to pray and be closer to God, to humble themselves or ask for forgiveness, these folks are using their lack of food to cause them to be more easily angered and to take out their lack of food on others.
God tells them this kind of fast is not going to help them spiritually.
God is not going to listen to anyone who uses a time with God in order to carry out their own ambitions.
Although I don't see myself in that category, it does make me think of why I fast. Or why I pray. Or why I study scripture. Do I do these disciplines to carry out my own agenda? Or am I truly trying to be closer to God.
I think we all need to take a careful look and why we practice any spiritual discipline. Are we doing it for God or ourselves?
God, you want us to deny ourselves and follow you. However, we sometimes deny ourselves in order to follow our own ambitions. Please forgive us, Lord, so that we can more perfectly love you and follow you in complete honesty and joy. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims