In the fasting context of this chapter, Isaiah puts to us that prayer and fasting alone are not enough, but we need to pair them helping those around us, who are in need.
In Greek, to ‘restore’ something, means to reestablish what was once there. Here we are being urged to accompany sincere prayer and fasting with the helping and reaching out of our hands to the lost, the broken, those who hunger and live in poverty. Isaiah offers the perspective that to do only one of these (to fast and not help, or to help and not fast) lacks sincerity. God wants our prayer and fasting to go beyond personal growth. Prayer and fasting is the engine of seeking justice, showing kindness and generosity.
The ‘yes’ of a child of God committing to ‘repairing the broken walls’ of their city, town or village, or even the world; must be fuelled by a soft heart of thankfulness. True thankfulness, that He first met us in our brokenness, saw the beauty beneath and committed to writing out the restoration stories of his children.
The people of the world (me and you) are the hands and feet of God's work on Earth. He chose to draw people, who would draw people to him; who would then draw people again from each end of the Earth; to bring wholeness and love to all. Friends, this is the Gospel.
God, make us people who seek your face in prayer and fasting. Would we be empowered by your spirit to fight for the broken, but from our knees; from the foot of your cross. God, strengthen us to lift our heads and prepare our hands to serve the people of your world and love them in the way that you always have. Amen.
The Bible tells us that ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:14). To have faith in God's power and awareness of that power in us, but not act in it, is to pour from a fountain of little faith in itself. I challenge you to eagerly seek God and his call for the world, but also to eagerly search for how YOU can continually, love and serve the person in front of you. Everyone has something to contribute. The baton is in YOUR hands.