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Just dropping by ... Is this the fast I have chosen?

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 18 July 2018

Recently, our community held a fast for rain. The drought here has been the worst in my lifetime. Arizona has always been dry, but now it is burning up. We didn’t get the usual winter snow and spring rains, so we are fearful of forest fires – and with good reason.

The beginning of June, a truck driving along the highway was dragging something metal from his tailgate. The sparks ignited 21 fires along the road.

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The fire burned nearly 6,000 acres before it was contained the first time. My grandfather’s ranch, where several families live, was in the path of the fire and was miraculously spared. We didn’t get the rain we fasted for, but we did get a miracle.

The fire came within 100 yards of my uncle’s house and turned and went around it, leaving all the structures on the ranch intact. We considered that a blessing as a result of prayer and fasting.

In the early days of our country, a fast was common. The leaders would ask for a national fast to bring down the blessings of God upon the nation. “Congress set May 17, 1776, as a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” throughout the colonies … June 1, 1774. Thomas Jefferson drafted a resolution for a “Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer” to be observed the same day.

It was introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses May 24, 1774, by Robert Carter Nicholas and supported by Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason, passing unanimously.” (When our leaders used to call us to prayer and fasting)

March 30, 1863, Lincoln set a day of fasting stating: “Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.” (Proclamation appointing a national fast day)

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Fasting is a powerful tool in communicating with God, if you do it the right way. Isaiah 58 is very instructive in how we must fast. Though this chapter was written centuries ago for the Israelites, it applies to us today.

The Lord spoke to Isaiah and said: Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

… they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

The people were fasting and outwardly appeared to be a righteous nation. They loved praying and performing the rituals, and they wondered why God did not bless them with what they asked for: Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?

The Lord answered their question: Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

The people were fasting for the wrong reasons. They were fasting to show how righteous they were. They were playing one-upmanship to show their misery in fasting to gain prestige over others. It was a day of misery, not a day of humility and turning to God.

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The Lord asks: Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?

Am I asking you to fast to make yourself and everyone around you miserable?

The Lord explains his intended fast. Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? The purpose of the fast is to lift our burdens and to free us from every kind of bondage. It is a personal journey, not a public display.

The Lord continues, Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? The fast is to show charity and kindness to those in need, especially our families.

After chastising the people, the Lord lists the promises for fasting. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward, or rear guard. He promises us spiritual light for our journey as bright as the morning sun and good health. The Lord will be our protection or, in the modern vernacular, He will “have our back” in times of trouble.

He continues, Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity. In other words, if we fast with pure intent, not pointing fingers or lauding our own accomplishments, but repenting of our own sins in deep humility, then the Lord will answer our prayers.

And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. In other words, if you make your fast about serving others, our spiritual intuition will be clear and discernible. We will see the Lord working His miracles in our behalf.

The Lord will prosper everything from health to wealth. A watered garden is pretty wonderful, and having water from a spring that is everlasting is a powerful promise. I am sure the garden represents our lives and the water is the living water Jesus Himself promises. Seeing the effects of the drought on our land this year, a watered garden is a powerful image for God’s promise.

The Lord continues His promises. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. Our broken places will be fixed and even our posterity will be blessed.

I don’t know when our nation decided fasting and prayer was not a way to solve problems, but we certainly have found a few more problems to solve as we have abandoned God searching for different solutions. Families are shattered, and people have lost their spiritual and moral compasses.

Children grow up in dysfunctional families where the patterns of disfunction are taught by example and will continue for generations. People are in financial bondage, over their heads in many cases, and there are too many children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The land is devastated with fires, tempests and earthquakes. Many know nothing about God and His mercy.

They don’t know where to turn in times of despair. There is no end to burdens to loosen and yokes to break. God presented the solution, but we have to keep our part of the bargain.

“Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting and fast without prayer.

It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God’s glory they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision and wisdom you need.” (All about - Prayer and fasting)

In fasting, you put yourself in tune with God’s will rather than your own. If God doesn’t honor a community’s request for rain, perhaps He wants us to see a different miracle.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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