Read Isaiah 58:1-12
58 The Lord says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshipping me.”
3 The people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?”
The Lord says to them, “The truth is that at the same time as you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass, and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that?
6 “The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
8 “Then my favour will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.
“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never runs dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”
As I read this passage from the prophet Isaiah I am convicted of the fact that we as a church have not become what we were called to be. Isaiah invites us to make our fast a fast for justice, in which we practice justice.
When we do that – Isaiah assures us that God will come to our aid.
God, so often I make my prayers, fasting and worship about me and not about you and your will. Help me, as part of your church, your body in the world to make my worship a practical thing so that my words and my actions would match up. So that our words and our actions would match up.