OK, mea culpa. Yesterday, all I posted was the Bible selection from the 58th chapter of Isaiah. But I did spend a good chunk of yesterday in the passenger seat as we headed back home along 95.
So on the good news, I will finish the post about the fast God desires this morning, then put up today’s post this evening.
Read Isaiah 58:5-7. Read the whole chapter if you want to get the big picture about God’s complaint.
One thing the verses in Luke concerning Anna are very clear on is that she prayed and fasted regularly. And since the Lord blessed her with insight regarding his son, I imagine she fasted, as much as humanly possible, in the spirit that God desired.
God expects both prayer and fasting. Jesus himself said, “Whenever you fast…” (Matthew 6:16, emphasis added) expecting that people would. But he goes on to explain that fasting should not be a show and a pretense. It should just be between you and God. And if it is between you and God, it accomplishes miracles. It can even move a mountain into the sea.
In the times of both Isaiah and Anna, people fasted in two ways. First, to honor God. Second, to glorify themselves. The first focuses the inner eye on God and aligns your steps and purposes with his. The first seeks holiness. Therefore, God honors it.
The second type of fasting intended to make sure everyone knew you were fasting through dress and mannerisms. Then, the individual would pray loudly and long to show the world how strong-willed and dedicated they were. Because it already received notice and recognition from men, God either ignores it or condemns it.
As a widow, Anna’s fasting could not glorify herself. She had nothing. No position, no wealth, no regular source of provision even. But in glorifying God, he would make certain she was provided for.
Anna could say with King David, I have been young and now I am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned
or his children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25, HCSB)
A Sixty-Day Countdown to Christmas