Fasting is a good religious practice observed by many in the world today. We must however be careful not to allow it to degenerate into emptiness and meaninglessness as was the case in the Old Testament and in other religions where people fail to take its eternal significance with seriousness. In the OT many wanted to show off or curry favour with men. They wanted others to see how pious they were and thus respect and praise them. There are Christians today who still follow in the same footsteps of the apostate members in the Old Testament; they deny themselves food and other niceties in life so that people around may see how great and smart they are in their practice. However, our Lord makes it clear that the fast acceptable in His sight is that which leads to repentance in our lives – Joel 2:12, 13. It is unimportant for us today to abstain from food and put on sack cloth and ashes because these things have no spiritual value. What counts is turning to the Lord with a broken and contrite heart and rending our hearts not our clothes – Joel 2:12. That, certainly, is the kind of fast that God expects from us.
When the Israelites in the Old Testament declared that God had failed to acknowledge their fast and bless them, God disapproved of what they were doing because it was not spiritual at all; they were simply frivolous in their practice. So, He told them the fast acceptable to Him had to do with deliverance from bondage to sin or sin weaknesses and attending mainly to the spiritual needs of those around them. It means that we have to deal with the sin in our own lives and witness effectively for Christ (Isaiah 58:3-7). When we witness, we feed those who listen to the message with the bread of life, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and those who believe come into the house of God where they are covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness. The heavy yoke of sin is laid on Christ and in return He gives us his own yoke which is light as it imparts peace and assurance of eternal life.