I’ve been thinking a lot lately about prayer lately. Isaiah 58 has always been one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible.
Sometimes the word is so beautiful, it needs no embellishment. So, for your enjoyment today, Isaiah 58, True Fasting:
Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion…
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
“Why have we fasted,” they say, “and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?”
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed, and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the type of fasting I have chosen:
To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
To set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say:
Here am I…
If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise forth in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations.
You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
Then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land…
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 58. The Holy Bible. (NIV)