“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seeest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee: the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.  If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obsecurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”  (Isaiah 58:6-12)

Fasting is SELF denial.  It is a form of “will” worship.  The fast the Lord chooses takes the emphasis off of self and places the emphasis on others and their needs.  As noted in the above passages of scripture it goes beyond pushing the plate away. When our focus is on the lost our desire will not only be to push back the plate BUT it will push us forward to be more involved in personal witnessing to “loose the bands of wickedness”.  Every day we must watch and pray for opportunities to witness outside the walls of the church house.  Souls are dying and going to a real place called hell! We MUST deny ourselves to see souls delivered from the bondage of sin!

Are we willing to deny self for the needs of others? When the opportunity presents itself to pray for a soul in the altar are we willing to stay and pray until the victory comes? The urge to pray for a short while and then stop must be denied. We must persevere in prayer! This type of praying will “undo heavy burdens” !  Altar work is hard work but denying self to pray a hungry soul all the way through will “let the oppressed go free”!! To see this kind of victory in our churches the counsel of the scripture is clear…we must deny self!!

We cannot afford to hide ourselves from our own flesh. In other words we must not deny (which means reject) any need to “take away the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity.”  Being yoked means being harnessed.  Anything that keeps us harnessed or focused on ourselves and our needs alone must be broken.  Yes, we have personal concerns but denying self to put the needs of others before our own brings liberty to all!  We must realize that it has to stop always being about “us” and allow the liberating freedom of the Holy Ghost help us  reach out from a pure heart of love to minister to the lost and hurting.  Blaming others for our ineffectiveness…pointing a finger at someone else rather than examining our own lives will block the flow of deliverance for the afflicted souls all around us.  When our conversation (meaning our lives, not just what we say with our mouth) speaks of our needs alone, we must take heed to the counsel of the scripture.  The Preacher of Ecclesiastes declares in chapter 1, verse 2 “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”  Everything in this life will be burned up…all is vanity other than a soul! Therefore, let’s not be found denying the Word of God as penned by Isaiah, but rather let us be found denying SELF to see those captive in sin go free!  This principal will make our witness effective as we deal the bread of life to a hungry, lost and dying world.

Therefore, out of obedience to the Lord, as Regional Overseer of Florida and Georgia I proclaim this next Assembly year as THE YEAR OF THE FAST…the year of SELF DENIAL! Every member is encouraged to push back the plate in your personal fast and prayer time.  Throughout the year corporate fast time will be called.  As well, be found denying self in every aspect.  In so doing we will all receive the promises of our Lord as declared in Isaiah’s writings.