When the people in the past offered their fasts, they were not according to God in them, but were just outwardly appearances of the body only. People then blamed God saying” Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afﬂicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you ﬁnd pleasure, And exploit all your laborers” ( Isaiah 58:3), so God referred to the way of their superﬁcial fasting in which a person ” bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? ( Isaiah 58:5). It is then that we hear the voice of God calling” My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways” ( Proverbs 23:26). For the Lord does not care much about the outside if the inside is far away from Him. This is what Jesus said to one of the Pharisees” Blind Pharisee, ﬁrst cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” ( Matthew 23:26). For what is the beneﬁt of hardly fasting and showing humility while the heart is far from the love for God and people?! How while fasting can I be in a quarrel with God and others?! How can my fast and abstinence from eating and drinking can by accompanied by evil?! My tongue wouldn’t stop hurting people by gossiping about them and judging and insulting them if necessary, and my eyes are not ashamed of watching what is inappropriate to watch, my mind is contaminated with hatred, envy and all that is unclean.
The Lord, my beloved, looks at the heart from the inside and wants to rule it, liberating its owner from his self and from the bondage of satan and the world that was placed in the wicked. He stands at our door knocking, if we hear His voice and open, He enters into the house, feeding us the supper of His love, and stay with us, ﬁlling us with heavenly riches, Enjoying His companionship. For He longs for the sincerity of our hearts when they are fully attracted towards Him, as children’s to their father’s” For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” ( 2 Chronicles 16:9).
Thus was the fast and repentance of the people of Nineveh from within their hearts, not only were they satisﬁed with humbleness and fasting, but according to the request of their king also had turned away from their evil ways” And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor ﬂock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His ﬁerce anger, so that we may not perish?” ( Jonah 3:7-9).
When our fasts are sincere from the inside and directly aiming towards God, not looking for praise from people, the Lord responds to the prayers accompanying those fasts. Look how God responded to Cornelius the gentile, as he fasted and prayed until He sent him Peter the apostle to evangelize and baptize him and his household. Hear what the Book of Acts say about this” So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God” ( Acts 10:30-31).
Let us take for ourselves four of what the Lord asks from us during fasting, and see the blessings associated with this: 1. Untying the chains of evil: where else does evil come from other than from the wicked and his followers. Satan the evil does not reach us except through thought. Our thoughts then must be untied from the evil’s constraints, ideas and tricks “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his ﬁeld; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way” ( Matthew 13:24-25). Or which is presented to us through our ﬁve senses. And hear we cry to our God to always keep our thoughts in, through and for Him, and we earn having the thought of Christ by being armed with the spiritual weapons of the Word of God, prayers, and full submission to the commandment: ” For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” ( 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We also have to know that we need the power of freedom from the Son of God” Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” ( John 16:24).
2. Deciphering enslavement: the yoke of sin weighs heavily on us, especially if it controls our mental and nervous system, enslaving our will and making us addicted to it. Dear blessed in the Lord, if you are addicted to anything in this world then you are not free but a slave. You can’t but take the decision to free yourself and pour it in front of the great liberator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and with tears and determination you ask for freedom and He is able to do this for you” Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” ( John 8:36). He is able to free you from all the burdens that you have inherited, the wrong things learned, from society or any circumstances that you have passed through. Lifting you above all the challenges that bind you.
3. Freeing the shriveled: whether by time, people or yourself. Look at your Christ, learn and take from Him the ability and example. It has been said about Him” The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed” ( Luke 4:18). The question for us is how do we treat the lesser people around us, and will we be the reason to crush their soul then Fast?!
4. Breaking every yoke: that means cutting off all the strange love from the heart that draws us away from God. This is the endowment of the heart, so that we are bound only to the Lord with all our hearts, souls thoughts and abilities. He did this for us, nothing less than to reciprocate love with love.
+The fruits of an accepted fasting:
” Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the ﬁnger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afﬂicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor ﬁnding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words” ( Isaiah 58:8-13).