"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Those words seemed highlighted Saturday morning when I opened my Bible. I immediately thought of Isaiah 58. The people were complaining because God wasn't answering their prayers even though they were fasting.
"'We have fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it?" (vs. 3). They believed that if they merely observed the form of depriving themselves food, their prayers would be answered.
It's as if God said, "No! As long as you are oppressing people and speaking evil of others, I will not hear you."
"...on the day of your fasting, you do as you please...Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife...You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high" (vss. 3, 4).
God told them two things they must stop doing. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk....then you will find your joy in the Lord..." (vss. 9, 14). The Amplified Bible says they were to stop "every form of false, harsh, unjust and wicked speaking" (vs. 9).
Before previous Come to the Fire conferences, hundreds of you have joined our corporate fast. This year, I believe God is calling us to fast one day each week before November 10. If your schedule makes it impossible for you to spend extended time praying during the day, could you spend at least an hour during the night or early morning in prayer?
But in addition to fasting food (as God leads you) and praying, let's begin to not only refrain from critical words but to ask the Spirit to give us His mercy toward others. He may give us tangible ways to show love to the oppressed and those we before would have condemned.
Let's prepare for revival in a brand new way.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Ps. 19:14).
Let's make John Wesley's prayer our own:
"Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(If you are willing to join this corporate fast, please respond to this email, and I will send you a video that can deepen your burden for prayer.)