Are you going through something so difficult, so devastating that the majority of your prayers are focused on your own circumstances? Have you been praying for a long time to be delivered from a situation?
Perhaps you have even fasted for periods of time to move God to act on your behalf, yet all to no seeming avail. The problem, circumstance or bondage still remains in spite of all the prayers and fasting.
Well, take heart.
The answer lies hidden away in a scripture that most people think refers to fasting from food.
“Is this not the fast which I chose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7.)
This scripture speaks of fasting, but not of food — except the exhortation to divide your bread with the hungry.
The fast referred to here is a fast in which you turn away from your focus on yourself, and begin to minister to someone else.
What will result from such a fast?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth …. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:8-9).
This is a spiritual fast. The fast that God has chosen here describes a turning away from every form of self focus, even from our own spiritual welfare.
If you decided to go on this type of fast, what would you do? You would not pray for yourself or about your own problems nor be concerned for yourself.
Instead, you would allow God to burden you to pray for someone else.
Then what would happen? Your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring forth!
Have you longed to be loosed from bondages in order to flow freely in the Lord and have your ministry established?
Fasting and prayer for yourself is not the answer. We need to break out of our self concern for our own needs, our own ministries, and become concerned about the needs and ministries of others, and then our recovery will spring forth.
This is the fast that God has chosen.
I believe the reason so many prayers are unanswered is that they are too self-centered and don’t glorify God.
When we take on the burden to pray for others, the answer will come for us too. God designed the Body of Christ to carry each other’s burdens.
A church will make great progress when the members pray more for the needs and ministry of the whole church than they pray for their own individual needs and ministries.
If we can take our eyes off ourselves, we’ll come into something glorious as a Body of Believers.
The Rev. Anne Barber, is pastor of My Father’s House, 7215 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, visit www.myfathershouseinc.com.