Fasting is more than abstaining from food

Checking our character. When we think of fasting, we traditionally think of abstaining from food and that is a major part of it. Fasting is about setting aside time to seek God’s face and aids our prayers, as evidenced by Daniel in the bible. Some people set aside time to pray regularly whilst others do it periodically. Fasting is both encouraged and expected. Jesus said in Matthew 16:16-18 ‘when you fast’ – implying there is an expectation to do so.

There is, however, another side to fasting that is perhaps not well spoken to. It is about character. Isaiah 58 is appropriately titled ‘Fasting that pleases God’.

The opening verses of Isaiah 58 focus on a people who were actively seeking God in praying and fasting. They knew the significance of fasting and were intent on doing it. The chapter opens with the Jews asking why they had been fasting and God hadn’t honoured their fast ‘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. (verse 3).

In verse 4, God gives a response as to why their fast has not been honoured.

‘On the day when you fast, you do as you please. You take advantage of all your workers. When you fast, it ends in arguing and fighting. You hit one another with your fists. That is an evil thing to do. The way you are now fasting keeps your prayers from being heard in heaven.’

God then instructs them to do what is right before promising them His glory and response to His fast. This concept is further discussed in the book of Zechariah. In Zechariah 7, the people who at the time were in exile, approached the prophets and priests to enquire as to whether they should continue to fast as they had been accustomed to. God then gives them a discourse on the right attitude. Once they have done all these things, then they are free to fast

These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbour; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.

God then promises that their fasts will be times of joy and gladness. In other words, they were to get their attitude right.

The same applies to us today. The scriptures are basically encouraging us to be mindful of how we live our lives if we expect God to hear our prayers. We cannot fast, knowing that our attitudes and actions are not right before God, and expect God to hear our prayers. The good news of course is that the Holy Spirit is ever-ready to assist with our character defects – if we ask Him to.

The challenge for us is to ask ourselves if we have the right attitude at all times, whether we are fasting or not. How are we living our lives from one day to the next? Does our character please God?

The scriptures state that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much – James 5:16. So, assuming fasting is undertaken to enhance prayer we need to make sure that we are living a life that continually pleases Him.

So until I appear again in your inbox with more insight from the scriptures.


Stay blessed




About the Author: Ola Aroyehun

Ola Aroyehun editor of The Christian Business and Professional Magazine: a magazine dedicated to helping Christians apply biblical principles to their professional lives.

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