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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

In fasting, let us consider God's call to humility. In Isaiah 66:2 God speaks through Isaiah the prophet and says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Isaiah is addressing the people of Israel. Uniquely chosen by the God of the universe, they had everything going for them. They were given the very law of God and experienced numerous blessings as the set-apart people of God. Yet they lacked the very thing that mattered most: humility. They were not trembling at God's word; they were not broken and contrite before the Lord.

In the same way, we can lack humility. Rather than realizing our dependence upon our Maker, we are tempted toward pride and a spirit of independence. We think we can handle life on our own. Perhaps we pay lip service to God in a way that makes us seem humble, but many of us are truly relying on our material possessions, our relationships, and our own talents rather than relying upon God Himself. This independent spirit is one of the many facets of pride.

Not only can we rely on just about every other thing except God, we also puff ourselves up in arrogance. We compare ourselves to others, and think that we are doing well because we aren't as bad as them. Pretty soon, we may find that we have a sense of self-righteousness. Or, on the other side of the coin, we compare ourselves to people who seem more gifted than us, more holy than us, more (you name it) than us, and we feel terrible about ourselves. We fall into a state of self-pity. This is pride, too. When we compare ourselves to others, we either feel better about ourselves, or worse about ourselves. But it is all revolving around ourselves. And it is all bound up in pride. The focus is on self, not on God.

In the midst of our self-centeredness, the Lord is calling us to a better way. He is calling His people to humble themselves. He wants us to realize that the world does not revolve around us, but around Him. In Isaiah 43:7 God says, "Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." We are chosen for His glory, not ours! God is calling for brokenness over our sin, for godly sorrow over the ways that we have grieved Him. He is calling for an understanding among His people that He is the Potter and we are the clay; that He is God and we are man. He is the one who calls the shots in our lives and we are to submit to Him.

In addition to repenting of our independence from God, we are also called to tremble at His Word. This means recognizing the words of Scripture as holy and authoritative. Trembling at God's Word means that we view it as our daily bread, knowing that we are only alive spiritually if we are digesting it on a daily basis. He is calling for humility, for contrition, and for a reverence toward His Word.

Caroline Albanese
Ministry Fellow at Dartmouth