“You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16
“Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.” Andrew Bonar
- It’s time to meet with your Savior! Grab your Bible, pen, and journal. Find a place of solitude. Spend one minute in silence, relaxing your body, and focusing on Jesus. Prepare your heart to be fully in tune with the Lord’s leading. Ask Him to open your eyes to His Word.
- Read Isaiah 58:1-12. If you have time, read the entire chapter.
Before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, the Lord wants us to remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Lent is the season of penitence, fasting, and remembrance during the forty days leading up to Easter. Unless you grew up in a home where Lent was observed, you might not even know how to start. Even if you do celebrate Lent, you can easily be distracted by the busyness of life.
During the Christmas season, many countries make it easy to remember what we’re looking forward to. Even if Christ isn’t mentioned, we know the real reason. Other than some egg hunts and photos, Easter does not lend itself to decorations, music, and other lifestyle reminders quite so readily.
Therefore, it is all the more important for believers to make opportunities to focus on Christ, whether you celebrate Lent or not.
If you don’t practice Lent but would like to prepare your heart for Easter, pray and ask God to show you how to make Easter more meaningful for you and your family. Ask God to help you make your Bible study a daily priority instead of getting so busy that you forget or run out of time. Include the reading of one of the Gospels to help you to focus more on Christ’s life and death on this earth.
If you do decide to give up something for Lent, remember that you are making a conscious choice to draw closer to God. From this perspective, Lent is a form of fasting! We give up something for a specific period of time in order to prepare our hearts for the Easter season. But how often do we reduce Lent to an act of obedience without any hope of transformation?
Let’s say you decide to give up chocolate for Lent, however, you end up eating three desserts every day. You gave up chocolate, but you filled yourself with other sweets. Not only that, but it was also in excess. God wants our hearts to be on Him, not on chocolate or any other thing we love.
Friends, don’t get down on yourselves if you struggle during Lent. Let this holy season be a reminder that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13)! Sustain yourself
with Scripture because: “Man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God” (Matthew 4:4).
I remember there was one semester in college when I decided to fast one dinner a week to pray. I didn’t always do well. However, there was one time when I asked my friend to fast that dinner with me. She said yes. Years later, I still remember that as being one of the best times of prayer I’ve ever experienced. That one evening alone made the fast worth it!
The main thing for all of us to remember during this season is to draw our hearts closer to Jesus. Friends, if the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9b that he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” then surely we can use Lent to remind ourselves that we need Jesus!
As we finish today’s study, let’s dig into Isaiah 58. Before we do, consider the context: the Lord had called Isaiah to preach to the people of Judah about their unfaithfulness. As you read, answer questions below in your journal:
- Read verse one. What have the Lord’s people done?
- Read verse three. The Lord’s people defend themselves, questioning why God has not seen them or noticed them. What actions do they state they do?
- Read verse four. Does their obedience lead to godly behavior?
- Read verse six. Where does the Lord expect their fasting to lead?
- Read verse eight. What is the blessing of this verse? How will you be changed? Verse eight is the answer, so read it out loud. Read it out loud again, with boldness and confidence!
The answers are:
- Rebelled. Sinned.
- Fasted and humbled themselves.
- No, they quarrel and fight.
- Loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, set the oppressed free, break every yoke.
Blessings and Love,
Question to Ponder
- Are there any acts of service, ministries, or Christian traditions that you follow, but your heart isn’t
in it? Take time to ask God how your life can be lived wholeheartedly for Jesus.
- If you don’t practice Lent, that’s okay too! Simply ask God to show you how He wants you to prepare your heart this Easter.
- Which part of Isaiah 58:8 excites you the most? Tell Jesus that you can’t wait to see how He transforms you!
The rest of chapter 58 continues with more remarkable promises. Read them out loud as well. Use these verses to fill your heart with hope. Would you like to get your heart ready for Resurrection Sunday? Try reading the whole Gospel of John. There are 21 chapters and over a month left until Easter. That’s less than one chapter a day! Pray for God to teach you something about the love and sacrifice of Jesus. Use your phone or another method to schedule an extra daily time to spend with God, in addition to your regular time with Him. Make it a specific amount of time. If you work outside the home, consider using your lunch break. It could be waking up earlier or after the children go to bed. If you have trouble praying alone, ask a friend to pray with you.