Today’s Reading: Isaiah 57:15-59:21 (additional reading: Psalm 71:1-24 and Proverbs 24:9-10)
Do you know the difference between passive thinking and active thinking? We’re thinking passively when we believe things are always happening “to” us. We’re thinking actively when we believe our actions have some effect on the things that happen in our lives.
Active thinking involves taking personal responsibility for some things in our life. We all have great potential to become active thinkers, but especially if we follow God’s truth. Being an active thinker rather than a passive one determines whether we will be a “victor” or a “victim” in life. Our problems will either defeat us or develop us depending on whether we are active or passive thinkers. Which leads to the first principle of reality fasting from our text passage: In Isaiah’s day the people were complaining that their prayer and fasting hadn’t been effective. They were complaining in such a way as to insinuate it was God’s fault! They were thinking passively.
“God, you should be answering our prayers. Haven’t you seen us fasting? Haven’t you seen us going without food to get answers to our prayers? God, it’s not fair. We’re fasting – but you’re not answering!”
We need to stop and take a dose of reality here. Sure God sees fasting. But He sees a whole lot more! He sees our exploitation of others. (Verse 3) He sees our quarrelling and strife. (Verse 4) He sees our injustice and oppression. (Verse 6) He sees it when we withhold food, clothing and shelter from the poor. (Verse 7)
The attitude that we can “earn” the right to change God’s mind into answering our prayers because we have gone through the religious motion of fasting is shallow on our part.
When we fast and pray for the right reasons, we desire a deeper relationship with God and actually do develop a closer walk with God. When we walk and talk with God great things happen in our lives! Our relationships with others improve. That’s because as we walk with God we become more like God who treats others in an excellent manner. This wasn’t happening in Isaiah’s day and this wasn’t happening in Jesus’ day either. But the real question is about in your life today? Are you seeking to please God for the right reasons.