The Priority Fast.
Example Duration: 1 day (in an isolated place), Purpose: Focus on God’s priorities.
The direction fast aims to seek God’s will for our personal lives. The priority fast, on the other hand, helps us concentrate on the major points of this will and progress gradually like a funnel.
In Chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah, a unique fast is presented, not consisting of abstaining from food but rather refocusing on God’s priorities. The people, to whom God was speaking, abstained from food but lacked the necessary inner disposition to fast as God desired. Their attitudes remained just as unfavorable in His eyes after the fast as they were before. This text has much to teach us about what fasting should produce in our lives.
“They seek me day after day and desire to know my ways, like a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the justice of their God. They ask me for righteous judgments; they desire to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ 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. 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? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; 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 pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:2-14, ESV)
What a powerful text on fasting! A fast so different from what is often talked about in the Church!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23, ESV)
In the priority fast, we seek to understand what truly matters to God, so as not to neglect what is most important in His eyes. We leave the animal world to enter into God’s world. God is looking for a man. God is looking for intercessors. God has a mission. Will we stand firm in our calling?
During this period, we can pray like this:
“Lord, show me what truly matters in Your eyes. Am I neglecting what truly matters to You? Am I taking the easy path or heading towards the narrow way? I beg You, open my eyes so that I can discern what matters to You. I ask for forgiveness for setting aside Your priorities. I refuse to let the things of this world take the place that rightfully belongs to You. I don’t want my heart attached to material concerns. I don’t want my house, my car, my needs, or anything else to take the place of what is important in Your eyes. I want to live my life in a way that honors Your priorities. I don’t want to hide my talents or bury them in the ground while the world is perishing and You have saved me. Lord, help me and enable me to do what truly matters to You. I love You!”
During fasting, it is possible to feel the tangible presence of God. The Bible says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, offering the possibility of knowing God even in the flesh. Oh, how glorious this truth is! The apostles no longer knew Christ in the flesh, but knowing Christ in the spirit will impact our own flesh. This is how we can joyfully declare that the presence of the Lord is more real than anything around us.
In their persecutions, the apostles experienced this power. Paul spoke of fighting with “the power that works within [him].” Was the apostle Paul talking about the vitamins provided by a juice or the dopamine released by challenges? No, he was talking about the glorious and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit! Oh, how glorious it is! The Spirit of Christ is glorious! Incomparable, powerful in works, strength, and wisdom, mighty in battle, unbeaten to this day! Christ is everything to me!
I worship Him and live for Him, glorifying Him because He is my God, I am happy to know Him, and I love Him! Jesus Christ is my life! Without Him, life is not worth living! Without His presence, we are the most miserable of men, “for it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, and no precious stone can match Him!
Let us not turn away from Him who calls us from above, and let us not turn away from His call!
Once, the arm of Sadhu Sundar Singh, a great witness of Christianity in India, was broken, and he was thrown into a well. But in the depths of that well, he testified that he felt like he was in the paradise of God. Here is a testimony of encountering God in the flesh. Here is a testimony of the power and glory of God working inside a man and enabling him to live above the worst persecutions!
There is a physical grace that we can claim when we suffer for Christ. Even if we do not experience persecution, we can know God in the flesh through the anointing. By living with an awakened spirit, we become more aware of spiritual realities and can welcome the presence of God. If Jesus said it was advantageous for us that He go away, it is because He left us the Holy Spirit.
Intimacy with God can be experienced physically, like John laying on Jesus’ chest. Fasting creates a space within us conducive to God’s presence, where we will be able to welcome and receive the Holy Spirit, whose presence will illuminate our entire being…
This text is an excerpt from the book “12 Reasons to Fast” written by Jérémy Sourdril.
We invite you to read the following article “The Fast of Worship.“