Lenten Reader | Day 2

What Kind of Fast

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

- Isaiah 58:5-7
Have you ever fasted from anything? Fasting simply means "to go without.” Usually, we think of giving up or going without food, but it can also be about going without whatever consumes our time: tv, phone, entertainment, friends, exercise – the list could be endless and different for each of us.

Every January, Mark and I fast for 21 days. 21 because that's the amount of time it takes to form a new habit. We give God the beginning of a new year and seek to draw nearer to His heart by spending that time with Him. This year I chose what I was giving up, I and told God about it. And then I heard, "Give up complaining."

....WHAT?!!?....I don't think I'm a complainer, God. Silence...
Let's just say that I haven't been able to count the number of times I have caught myself in the middle of complaining these last 3 weeks. Obviously, He knows a thing or two...or three…or four.

As we begin these 40 days of Lent, I'm going to try and build fasting into my prayer life. What can I give up so that my time will be spent seeking God and not my own way? What if I give up the unforgiveness I've been holding on to? What if I give up resentment and bitterness that has settled down inside of me? What if God isn't just asking for outer things to be given up but wants to work on the inner issues we think no one sees?

I have heard it said that what you starve will die and what you feed will thrive. So...God, what are You asking me to starve so that I might feed my spirit and thrive? I commit to DOING IT – WITHOUT COMPLAINING!

- Denise Litter
Father, may my fast be pleasing to you. Not one that is self-indulgent but one that creates justice and undoes oppression.