Fasting God’s Way
“Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back – a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring.
“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.” - Isaiah 58:1-2, 6-7 (MSG)
Fasting is something that is rarely talked about in many churches. Fasting is the practice of refraining from food in order to focus on spending time with God in reflection, study and prayer. Often the act of refraining from eating is indeed foreign to many is America, yet it was a common occurrence in the lives of people in the Middle East. Even today we see some groups still taking part in the act of fasting.
However, the key to fasting is not to let everyone know that you are fasting so that you may get applauded, but for it to be a special time of reconnection with God. There are times during the year where worshipping communities fast. However we are reminded that if we are only fasting for the sake of fasting, then we are doing it wrong.
Instead, we are reminded that we honor God by what the fasting leads to. Is it leading to God’s people working to break the injustice we see around us, how others are treated in the workplace or at school? Are we working to free those who are oppressed? Are we actively involved in work to end abuse, trafficking of others, or addiction?
We are reminded that people and relationships are important to God. Sharing our food with the hungry, caring for the poor and homeless, and making sure others have their basic needs met is so important to God. How are we living into these things this Lent?
Still for God we are also reminded that we need to be available for those in our families. The tasks of our days and the things we make important in our lives can get in the way of being available to our own families. This is so true in lives of 21st century people as our phones become a constant interrupter, instigator and productivity reducer. We let our phones run us rather than the other way around.
We have much to ask for God to repair. However, we also believe the Great Healer of our lives brings forgiveness, salvation and hope to us all.
PRAYER: God of all healing, guide our moments and refocus us upon you. May this Lenten season be a time for us to turn from ritual for the sake of ritual to action for the sake of healing injustice, serving the poor and being active and available in our own lives. May we step out in faith and respond in hope and love. Amen.
Rev. Laura C. Kelsey, Author
Rev. Kelsey is proud to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Pontiac, MI. Together with the faithful and loving worshipping community at FPC. she enjoys sharing God's Word with others, working to help folks experience God's love and discern their direction in life, and lovingly reach out to the greater Pontiac community.