The second of a five day introduction to making a prayer and fast really effective…
A few years ago I shared some thoughts about Prayer and Fasting from Isaiah Chapter 58. I thought it would be helpful to have a look at them again over the next few days.
 Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.
Verse 1 talks about how God is dissatisfied with His people’s transgressions and sins.
 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
When you read verse 2 in some translations it appears on the surface that God is happy with what His people are doing. It is only when you realise that what this verse is talking about is the outward show that mankind can have towards God. Read the NLT version of verse 2 below.
 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
Read also Mark 7:6-7; Isa 29:13; Luke 18:10-14.
Our outward show may fool other people but it never fools God. If we are coming to prayer and fasts because everyone else is and so we are there to be seen, then we are wasting our time. God is not impressed or fooled.
 ‘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 labourers.
Verse 3 is a lament that God does not seem to be answering the people’s prayer and fasting. But this verse points out two reasons why they were not getting answers to prayer.
- The people may have been fasting from food but still doing things that gave them pleasure whilst they were not praying.
- They were still ensuring that they went about their daily business (i.e. work and school) in that those that had servants kept the servants working so that the people fasting were still earning money.
Whilst fasting, also fast from TV, computers, radio, IPods etc. Unless of course you are listening to talks or watching Convention DVD’s! That is why fasting is much more than just not eating. It is a commitment to stop doing anything that takes us away from seeking God.
We don’t have servants but have we done our utmost to ensure that work, school, study, sport or family etc. will not be a distraction to us? Make sure that you make arrangements with your work or school that you set aside this time to devote to praying and fasting. Some people do work on the weekend and may not be able to get time off but an effort should be made to not have work distracting us from the Prayer and fast. The same applies to school or study.
Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Having said that there are circumstances that are beyond our control which will mean that sometimes we are not able to commit to prayer and fasting as we should. We may have commitments that have been made before the prayer and fast was announced or things come up that we must attend to at that time. The lesson here is that we should endeavour to not make commitments on the prayer and fast weekend that we could have made for another time.