A Simple Way to Live the True Fast


Ross Carper 

isaiah-58One thing we talk with students about at the end of 30 Hour Famine is the “true fast”—that passage in Isaiah 58 that makes it so clear that one day of fasting isn’t what God is after. The goal is to have an everyday lifestyle of love for God and others. A love that compels us to seek justice for all, rather than always making everything about us. Here’s verses 5-6.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

    only a day for people to humble themselves?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

    a day acceptable to the Lord?

 ‘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?

I love how challenging this passage is. But as a youth director, it’s not easy to help students stay engaged with seeking justice for the oppressed throughout the rest of the year. We need simple ways to connect with our mission to love our global neighbors as ourselves.

One brainstorm I’m having is based on the current global refugee crisis and the research-based fact that we need to connect youth group students with the broader, intergenerational family of faith. I’m planning something that is the least complicated thing I’ve ever tried. It’s revolutionary. It’s a prayer.

During the course of a Sunday worship service this fall, my hope is for our middle school students to lead a prayer for those who are being displaced by violence. With help from World Vision, we will gather information to educate ourselves about the crisis. We will prepare, and then we will simply pray. We won’t ask for money from the congregation. We won’t promote a trip or event. We won’t show a video or do a skit. We’ll simply pray, because as full-fledged members of the faith community, that is what we do. But it’s not all we do. If we’re praying in the Spirit of God, to whom every child is precious, then actions large and small (giving, advocating… anything) will follow words.