Fasting Changes You (Not God)

January 11, 2018

From January 7-27, the Riverwood family is doing a "21 Days of Fasting & Prayer" spiritual campaign. During this time, we are praying for Riverwood, for our nation, for our community, for one another, and for personal spiritual growth in 2018. To make this blog a part of this spiritual journey, we are looking at Isaiah 58 and the topic of fasting.

If you missed last week's post, you can catch it here.. Otherwise, let's continue to learn together as we seek Jesus through the spiritual discipline of fasting!

by Erin Bird

I was talking with a friend of mine this week who started a new commission-only job a couple of months ago. Last week was incredibly frustrating for him. Two different people wanted to make a purchase, but said they needed to "sleep on it."

My friend knew if they waited, they would miss out - and sure enough, both items were sold within the hour to other people. This meant he missed out on the commission, and the individuals missed out on the incredible deal.

As my friend summed up his story, he said, "So basically, I put in 50 hours of work last week, and got nothing to show for it."

If you were in his shoes, you'd be frustrated, too. None of us enjoys putting hard work into something only to see no return.

The Point of No Return

I think we often approach fasting the same way. We want something from God, and we think if we work hard enough at fasting, He'll change His mind and give us what we want.

But as we see in Isaiah 58, fasting isn't about changing God. It's about God changing us! Look at the first part of verse 3 with me:

"Why have we fasted,
and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you take no knowledge of it?" (Isaiah 58:3a)

The people are talking to God in these sentences. They are fasting, but God doesn't seem to be responding. They're working hard, but they are seeing no return on God's part. Why?

Well, God responds...

"Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high." (Isaiah 58:3b-4)

You see, the people were fasting trying to get things from God. They had made fasting about themselves. But God basically responds, "Fasting isn't to change me, it's to change you! However, you are acting just as sinful and selfish as ever, even in the midst of your fast!"

But God's not done. He continues...

"Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?" (Isaiah 58:5)

In other words, God is saying that fasting is supposed to change us. It's supposed to humble us. It's supposed to give us a proper perspective. It's supposed to help us see that we are truly dependent upon Him - for food, for clothing, for work, for relationships... for life!

So as you undergo your fast during these 21 Days...

  • whether it be food,
  • or entertainment,
  • or social media,
  • or your phone,
  • or whatever it might be,

may you not falsely think your fast is to move God to give you something. Rather, may your fast humble you and help you realize that what you get in a fast is God Himself changing your character to be more like Him.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

We are on a mission to help people love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.

It doesn't matter to us if you:

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