Let me ask you a question.
What percentage of your prayer time is devoted to asking God to provide you with the things that you want or need? Now that you have that planted firmly in your mind, let me ask another question. How often do you pray to God with a mind toward doing what HE wants? If you’re like me, the answer to that question is probably “not often enough.”
Why is that?
Perhaps it is just natural in this dog eat dog culture we live in to look out for ourselves first. Maybe we think that if we don’t, we will end up getting squashed or forgotten.
When we really appreciate the meaning of being a follower of Jesus, though, doesn’t it make sense to listen to what God wants us to do? He loves us. Surely he will lead us to live in a way that enlightens our minds and hearts.
In today’s first reading from Isaiah, the prophet tells us that what we perceive to be the will of God is often more about ourselves than about doing the will of our Father. God warns the people of Israel that the “fasting” that many do publicly to show off their piety indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what God desires.
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
This is what God wants. Are we ready to do it?