“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:6-11 NLT


I am so proud of the members of my congregation that are participating in our annual 21-day fast. It is a time for us to sacrifice choice foods in exchange for Daniel’s diet of vegetables and water.

Halfway through it you may have asked yourself, “Why am I doing this? Is God really listening to me?”

We do it because we want our discipline to be a response to the demands of the dominant culture that we have the will to abstain from what everyone else is doing even as we seek favor from the Lord.

Even as we abstain from certain foods we need to make sure we don’t omit certain acts of righteousness that should be natural responses of our hearts.

The prophet Isaiah reminded us of what we should be doing to really get something out of our fast.

  1. Free those that are wrongly imprisoned. In America we have more people in prison than any other developed country with over two million people in prison; many of them people of color with non-violent drug offenses. Prior to the opioid crisis in white America we had a war on drugs which was really just a war on black poor people to fill up our prisons; the new slavery.
  2. Lighten the burden of those working for you. We should be paying everyone that works for living wages. It is a burden for someone to work for you and not be able to live off of what you pay them.
  3. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people. We have to undo the unjust policies that have been born out of institutional racism. Sending young people out of the country just because they were brought here as children looking for a better life is unjust. Blocking minority kids from opportunity by removing much needed social programs to build more war equipment is wrong.
  4. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. When we give up something when we fast we can then share what we gave up with somebody who’s given up on life. It makes no sense that in 2018 Memphis, Tennessee still doesn’t have a comprehensive homeless shelter that deals with homelessness, mental illness, and a medical clinic. 

When we do these things that’s when our breakthrough comes!

Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “


Dear God,

Help me to be a change agent. Even as I’m fasting I know there are people starving from injustice. We need to correct the wrongs in our society. What do you require of us but to do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly with our God. You can want us to stop talking bad about each other and stop striking each other with wicked fists. Father forgive us for fasting for show and not showing Godly love. We repent and ask you to shine your light on us so we can reflect your glory in the work we do for justice.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen