The main difference between personal fasting and God’s chosen fast is that when you fast it changes your personal wineskin to receive new wine. When you apply God’s chosen fast it is for other to benefit as the passage in Isaiah 58 reveals. Also note that the first priority of God’s fast is spiritual and then it goes onto to meet the physical and emotional needs of other like sharing food and clothing. We are not a charity in the traditional sense of the word. We go to the core of the human being and meet the most pressing spiritual need first. From there the inward reformation will ensure that we can also train someone to fish for life, versus creating an unsustainable relationship that requires us to provide fish forever! In Africa three are stockpiles of food and support from the West that warlords often sell to the poverty stricken masses. What is needed is not more support, but a reformation of this continent, one mind set at a time. Our work is spiritual.
Isa 58:6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
Isa 58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Isa 58:8 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.
Isa 58:9 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,
Isa 58:10 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.
Isa 58:11 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.
SO the initial spiritual disciplines of God’s chosen fast include:
- Discipline 1: Loose the bonds of wickedness
Aim through the cross. Jesus crucifixion released us from the bond of wickedness forever. Repentance is a key to loosen people from wickedness. Acknowledge your sin before God in Jesus name and start the loosening from years of habitual sin and addiction, neglect and abuse. The Lord is able and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. See also 1 John 1:7, 9. Fellowship with the saints in a church is the fellowship life blood that cleanses you while you worship and serve God together. That is the sense of corporate cleansing while the personal confession and relationship with the Cleanser Himself balances this wonderful plan for our deliverance and the ability to walk it out by faith.
- Discipline 2: Undo heavy burdens
Jesus said we should learn two things from Him: that He is meek and humble. Read Matthew 11:28-30 for more and see how you find a easy yoke and light burden in following Jesus. When we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus, there is a tailor made cross just for you. God knew what would change you and help that old nature of sin be crucified with Christ. If we laid down all our personal crosses on the stage and had to choose which one to take home, we would probably pick up that very same cross we laid down. There are some things you can’t change about yourself, others, your circumstances. NO matter how much you pray or fast and kick up a tantrum. Learning Godliness with contentment while denying yourself and carrying your cross daily is actually a wonderfully liberating event. Paul the apostle said He dies daily. He pleaded with God to remove the ‘thorn in his flesh’ which I believe was the constant persecution that he encountered from his fellow countrymen wherever he went preaching the Gospel. God said that His grace is sufficient for him and that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. How will we find out where our weaknesses are if we don’t have a cross experience daily? Embrace it, pick it up and follow Jesus. Self-denial helps us disappear and Jesus appear in the situation and we can start each day now asking God – how can I deny myself and pick up my cross and follow your higher way for my life today? You will find that if you deny your old life and its preferences, and passion you will feel lighter and the new creation inside will come forth. Life will become an awesome journey of daily self-discovery in the light of His word and led by the Spirit – those are the sons and daughters of God!
Remove the burdens of expectation, striving for perfection by yourself, ambition and lust, and take His easy yoke of submission to His higher way of living. Try it and make some notes about how you feel at the end of the day. Lighter or heavier? Happy or depressed? Empty of self yet fulfilled, or full of complaints and self-pity?
- Discipline 3: Free the oppressed
Jesus understood that His anointing was to free the oppressed. It happened regularly in his ministry and it continued in the Acts of the Apostles. It also continues today where believers take his commission seriously. Read Isaiah 61 in relation to Luke 4:18- 21. Jesus found the place where it was written and then He read it out loud and told the people of his synagogue: :Today this scripture if fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luk 4:18 “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;
Luk 4:19 TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
There comes a point where you set people free and stop counselling the person and talking to the spirit of oppression. Some counsellors counsel the demon and never get the person free. Use your discernment and free the oppressed because the Spirit of the Lord is upon you to proclaim liberty to the captives. Jesus has done the job already – now enforce it in his name. Do not take no for an answer and make sure the person is freed completely. Deliverance is a process so let God show you what you need to do now. Today this scripture is fulfill led in our hearing too! Accept it and enforce it!
- Discipline 4: Break every yoke
You will see the yokes on people if you enter God’s chosen fast. Sometimes it is a yoke of religion that people place on themselves because they have not learnt to repent from dead works in serving God. They think God requires them to live dull lives full of rules and regulation and they stop enjoying life thinking they are doing God a favour. Jesus came to give us life and life in abundance. Legalism does not produce righteousness, faith in Jesus’ work on the cross does!
Other yokes include, false expectations, condemnation, accusations and lies, fear, doubt and any other oppressive thing. Break it with the anointing.
Isa 10:27 It shall come to pass in that day That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, And his yoke from your neck, And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.
Once you have received the spiritual disciplines of God’s Chosen Fast you can go onto the natural disciples of helping others and meeting some more physical needs, but can you see the priority of spiritual wellness? As a man thinks in his heart, so he is!
Photo by Kai Pilger