There is no question that fasting is an essential part of our spiritual lives. Scripture shows us, time and again, how this practice strengthens our spirits and steers us to lives that are more in tune with the Holy Spirit. And yet so often we treat fasting as an item on the long “How to be a Christian” to-do list. Understandably, with so many things going on around us at any given time, we tend to lose sight of what God is truly asking of us when we are called to fast: obedience.
When we fast, we have the unique opportunity to offer worship to God and, in turn, receive direction from Him for how to fulfill his commands. If the fast I’ve chosen does not remove all that acts as a barrier between the Holy Spirit and me, I’ve chosen the wrong fast. If I’m not choosing to remove idleness, prejudice, corruption, greed, idolatry, or any other distractor, then I’ve chosen to partake in an empty ritual that does nothing to bring me closer to carrying out the purposes of my Creator. When we remove distractions from our lives that can hinder our ability to hear God’s voice, it becomes clear that God is not interested in ritual if it is not followed by obedient action.
So, what is God calling us to do? In both Zechariah 7 and Isaiah 58, God commands his people to examine the purpose of their fast. First, are we acknowledging that the way we’ve chosen to serve God is not fulfilling his grand purpose of being good stewards of his creation? Do I fast and pray but fail to love my neighbor? Do I participate in weekly church services yet turn a blind eye to the suffering of my oppressed brothers and sisters? Do I deny that their suffering exists?
During this season of Lent, let us remember that God’s desire is for us to use the limited time we have on this earth to ease the pain of those in need. Pray that God reveals how he can use us to be agents of change in our communities. Ask the Lord to show us how to “show kindness and mercy to one another,” and how to “not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (Zechariah 7:9-10).
When we commit to worshiping God, we commit to being stewards of his creation. Let’s reflect on the role we each play in caring for those cast aside by our current culture. Let us acknowledge where we have failed and make room for God to heal us from the wounds that our actions and inaction have caused. And let us draw closer to the Lord, so that we can be filled with his perfect love and compassion.
Febe Mariel Fermin was born in the Dominican Republic but was raised and currently lives in Rochester, NY. Febe is a CMC at Iglesia Nuevo Dia where she serves as Worship Leader and Youth Pastor. She enjoys singing, playing guitar and watching movies.