Even under the Old Covenant, God was trying to tell us that fasting was not to afflict our souls or get brownie points with Him. That is performance-based religion and a trap we intuitively get our unrenewed minds and orphan hearts to believe about God.
The truth is, God never changes in His unfailing love toward us. There’s nothing we can do to bring Him closer to us. We are the ones who change and draw near to Him.
Fasting was always about learning how to open our hearts to God’s heart, to receive His love so that we can love others the way that He loves.
Here’s a famous passage in Isaiah about the true fast–what it is, and what it isn’t. I invite you to meditate on these words and let the Holy Spirit marinate your soul with the Father’s love; especially His promises when we let Him love us this way.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:5-12 NKJV)