Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Isaiah 58:3
READ: Isaiah 58:1 -12
1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
The first thing to note when you want to embark on a fast is that the devil will try to stop you. He knows that the moment you start fasting, you would become too strong for him to manipulate. Therefore, he would use every means at his disposal to stop you so get ready to ensure that he fails. On a regular day when you have not decided to fast, you could find yourself staying without food until much later in the day, sometimes until evening without feeling hunger pangs; however, the moment you decided to fast, you would wake up hungry. Ignore the hunger and stay committed to your decision to fast.
Another trick the devil uses is to ensure that your nose picks up the aroma of food wherever it is cooked or served around you. You would find yourself noticing how big the piece of chicken on your colleague’s plate is or hear someone talking about how good the food in the restaurant next door is. Don’t take these thoughts of food lightly; they are tactics of the devil to stop you from fasting, so you must be violent about blocking them from your mind. Give them no room at all. Leave that place where the food is being served or talked about; if you cannot, then occupy your mind with the word of God immediately.
People have asked me severally, “How are you able to fast for forty days and nights and sometimes even longer?” The answer is simple: when I decide to fast, I go to my calendar, count the number of days I want to fast for, then mark the starting and ending dates of the fast. After this, I say to my stomach, “As from this date, there will be no more food for you until so and so date”. If I begin to feel hungry when the fast starts, I know the devil is trying to get me to break it, so I take that as a reminder that it is time to pray and before I know it, the hunger would have gone. Lastly, when you fast, talk less to other people and more to God. During a fast, when you talk to people, your strength diminishes, but when you talk to God, it increases. Reduces physical activities as much as you can while you increase spiritual ones. The time you would have spent cooking or eating can then be used to study your Bible and/or pray. This is also the time to increase your giving to the needy around you, as we read in our Bible text today. Also, note that the moment you boast about your fast, it becomes useless (Matthew 6:16-18).
Be violent about blocking everything the devil uses to discourage you from fasting.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 Chronicles 27- 29
HYMN 22: SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER
1. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer
2. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
3. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
4. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”
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