Fasting For God’s Favor

Southaven, Ms

By: Mike Upchurch

The practice of fasting is mentioned at the beginning of each New Year by many Church leaders, and I for one have always been a fan of fasting. Some Pastors promote fasting among their congregation as a method of soul cleansing, a pathway to personal revival, and a way to draw closer to the Lord.  Many churches participate in the “Daniel 21 Day Fast”, introduced by the Prophet Daniel in Daniel chapter 10.  It’s a fast involving the denial of pleasurable foods.  The prophet fasted avoiding certain tasty foods for three weeks or 21 days. Those types of fasts are always productive, and it will always benefit you to discipline your flesh while spending time in prayer seeking God.  A fast could be defined as  sacrificing things you enjoy. 

However it is March, so why are we discussing fasts?  Well the truth is, there is a particular type of fast that should be year-round. This fast isn’t really about fasting food, but more the type of fast or sacrifice the Lord desires from His children.  There is a fast that moves His heart and His hand toward the believer, but more on that in a moment. In the book of Isaiah, the Lord was angry with the children of Israel over their fasting due to the condition of their hearts.‬‬

He was lamenting the fact the children of Israel were food fasting, yet their hearts were hard and they were oppressing their very own people. Because of their attitudes toward the needy, their food fasts were rendered useless and of no value! In the 58th chapter of Isaiah they cried out to the Lord wondering why He was ignoring their fasting….

“We have fasted before You!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t You impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and You don’t even notice it!”…..

And the Lord responded…..

…..“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:3‬ ‭NLT

The Lord wanted pure hearts.  The Lord wanted His people to reach out to others who were hurting. He wanted them to care for those down on their luck. He wanted them to open their hearts to the hungry, the oppressed, those being held prisoner, and especially those who they were in fact oppressing.  In the rest of that chapter, He laid out the type of fast He desired from His children…..

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-7‬ ‭NLT

That same heart of compassion is certainly still of great importance to the Lord today. The Lord wants His people who are called by His name to be kind hearted. To help the homeless, to feed the hungry, and to operate in love.  It’s not rocket science.  Jesus said we would be known by our love!  Let’s not lose sight of that ever.  We need to reach out and help others. THIS is what pleases the Lord….having tender hearts and helping others when we have the resources. I have a dear  friend who has a ministry devoted to feeding the homeless. Though she has a full time job, through One Heart Ministries Suanne Aguirre feeds homeless people in downtown Memphis each Sunday in Court Square. If you’re not able to accomplish this yourself, seek her out on Social Media to be a part of what she’s doing.  You won’t have to look very far for other ministries which are providing assistance to the needy.  Get on board with those who are reaching out. Pray about where the Lord would have you serve.

 Making it about others portrays the Church operating like the Church should!  We should be care centers for the hurting and oppressed. We should be attempting to please the Lord in ways outlined in Isaiah above. When we do that, let’s read further in that same passage and see the promises we will reap….. 

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply. Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:8-11‬ ‭NLT‬

Those are great promises we can reap from the hand of the Lord, if we will only have hearts of compassion!  It’s Christ-like to serve others less fortunate. It’s Christ-like to use your resources to help your fellow man. And it’s Christ-like to not oppress or abuse those who work for you or serve under you. You will please the Lord and reap great benefits at the same time if only you will have a heart for the hurting and give of your resources!  That’s a sacrifice or fast that will have the favor of the Lord!

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike