Waiting is not always fun. Waiting for something that is completely out of your control, and trusting that God is in control, is not always easy. In fact it can be extremely difficult. As I waited and prayed for my visa, I also prayed for my friend trying to get his visa (which he got it! Praise Jesus!!), as well as all those who are denied visas every day that don’t deserve rejections. And as I prayed for them it got me thinking about all those who get displaced on a daily basis and feel like they don’t belong anywhere. As I prayed this way I felt more strengthened and more confident by taking my prayers off myself and directing them to others. But with this kind of praying also came a new responsibility, one I could not ignore.
We just visited a refugee camp where the people living there used to be part of one country but they are now part of another country. Neither country accepts them as their own leaving them displaced and left as refugees in a place that should be called their home, but isn’t.
As Christians it is our responsibility to pray for and walk alongside those who are suffering. As I fasted and prayed while waiting for my visa, I was reminded of what true fasting is; the type of fasting we are to participate in as believers. Isaiah says,
“Is not this the kind 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 to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
Chris Heuertz says in his book, Simple Spirituality, “The prophet [Isaiah] shows us that voluntarily going without something, making a sacrifice, is ultimately for God to be able to answer the prayers of someone else who is forced to go without.”
When we fast it shouldn’t be for our own selfish gain, but for the gain of our brothers and sisters all over the world who are treated unfairly, unjustly; those who are displaced and have no real place to call home; those who go hungry or those who aren’t given the opportunity to get an education. These are the reasons we fast, these are the people we fast for.
I want to challenge you all to enter into this kind of fasting (and remember we don’t fast to brag or boast!). Fast from food, electronics, Netflix, whatever takes your time and energy. Then I urge you to use that time and energy to pray for our friends living in the margins. You may never see the fruit of your fasting and prayers, but God is always listening and acting even when we can’t see it! Never grow tired of doing good or praying for those in need!