We are two weeks into the Lenten season and probably wondering, “Will my prayers get off the ground?” This season of meditating and focusing our attention to draw nearer to the heart of God is essential for what lies ahead of us. Yet sometimes we become so consumed by religious busyness and legalistic acts of fasting that we miss what really matters to God. The story in Isaiah 58:1-12 tells the story of the children of Israel who were committed to carrying out the rules of the law and ritual practice of the righteous, but in all their efforts they wondered if God even noticed.
After wrestling with the question, why do we fast and pray I discovered that God is not as concerned with our method for devotion, but the manner in our pursuit to drawer near to God. God does not require us to fast for what it does for Him, but for what it does for us. It is a practice that challenges us to change our habits, shift our thinking, transform our hearts, renew our way of living. Fasting makes our heart more attentive to pursuing what is pleasing to God. Described below are the points in the Isaiah passage that reveals the fast that is pleasing to God:
1. It comes from a humble heart
2. It requires that we practice what we preach
3. It is a practice of earnest prayer
4. It is a focus for revival and relief from what has kept us bond and oppressed
5. It entails caring for others
6. It removes pride and egotism
7. It repairs relationships and offers mercy
8. It is the journey toward our resurrection. When we make the sacrifice of fasting and praying, when we open up our hearts to give for the sake of others, when we pursuit the heart of God, and hold the desire to please God in return we arrive on the launching pad that gets our prayers off the ground.
If you need a daily word of encouragement or inspiration this season, check out NeilVermillion.com for a daily prophetic word.