In my early years as a Christian, God responded to my fasts,
often the very day.
He knows how hard it is for a human to fast,
and I think He didn’t want me to get discouraged and give up.
In recent years, many fasts it seemed like God didn’t pay any attention.
The person wasn’t healed. The problem continued. No sign of what to do.
What’s with that?
Does it ever seem like God is ignoring yours?
Isa. 58 is the chapter about fasting. God knows what befuddles us.
“Why have we fasted, they say, and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice (verse 3)? That’s exactly what I was asking!
But now in my 47th year as a Christian, I understand more fully that we have a personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ our Elder Brother. What’s more important is our spiritual condition and character rather than physical matters we usually fast about.
God is not a genie who must grant “yes” just because we rub the bottle instead of drink from it. He is The Master Timer. He knows what is best for not just me—but all concerned and even those not concerned!
Jesus said if we fast to the Father, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:18). That is an absolute promise to believe and claim. No matter how it seemed, God did not ignore my fasts. But He may say “wait” or “no.”
A “no” is rare
I can think of only one case in the Bible.
God through the prophet Nathan told David that the son, born after he took Bathsheba from Uriah and then had Uriah killed, would die. David fasted for seven days because “Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me” (2 Sam. 12:22). He only stopped when the child died. God was gracious all right but also just! David needed the punishment for the horrendous sins. And we should consider that our Master Timer was merciful to His king because David would have probably starved to death if the child lived long enough! David accepted his punishment (Psa. 51) and went on to serve God.
Thinking back, I can’t remember an out-and-out “no” to any of my fasts other than when somebody died instead of being healed. There is a time to die. Hopefully you are loved by enough people that somebody will be fasting for you when you die!
It’s interesting that when James 5:14 says when sick we should call for an elder of the church, God’s promise is “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (verse 15). Those fasts will eventually be answered in the resurrection!
Husbands and wives, we must be right with our mates so our prayers and fasts are not hindered (1 Pet. 3:7). Guess we should be fasting for that!
Then there’s the curse of sin. Our sins hide His face from us (Isa. 59:2). Actually, if we’re even thinking of sinning, surely God will never hear (Psa. 66:19). Overcoming sin is a good reason for fasting!
Examples of “wait”
Hannah persisted “year by year” (1 Sam. 1:7). She fasted humbly as a “maidservant” and poured her heart out. She told God specifically what she wanted and vowed to dedicate a son to Him. God said we should reason with Him (Isa. 1:18), and at the right time He gave her Samuel.
Nehemiah was so sad to hear about the walls of Jerusalem being broken down that he fasted and prayed. It appears that Nehemiah had been asking “let Your servant prosper this day” (verse 11) “for many days” (verse 4).
Hannah and Nehemiah persisted until The Master Timer said “yes”! Jesus gave the parable of the unjust judge and taught, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?” (Luke 18:6). What might seem long to us might seem “speedily” to God (verse 8). That can happen when a day is like a 1,000 years! And God is not an unjust judge!
Anytime we fast, it is wise to study Isa. 58. It tells how to fast (verses 6-7) and how not to fast (verses 3-5). Are we really seeking God daily and delighting to know His ways? Or are we only “as [if] a nation [or person] that did righteousness?” (verse 2).
Are we trying to “make your voice heard on high”? (verse 4). Telling God what to do? Or are we humbly seeking God’s answer no matter what it is? We want His yes, no or wait!
And though we might be fasting for healing, for financial help, for direction about a difficult decision or for other physical, material matters, what we really want is what Jehoshaphat said in faith when he directed the nation of Judah to fast:
“Our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12)
Isa. 58:9 concurs! “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”
If we are looking to the Father and Jesus Christ, our fast has not been in vain. God the Father has rewarded us openly. At the right time we will experience the blessings stated in verses 8-11.
Until next time,
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