Lent Week 4: Religion Is Exhausting, True Relationship Brings Rest

Written by: Victoria Fisher 

Victoria Fisher is the Communication Specialist at the Set Free Movement. Before joining SFM she attended a Graduate Discipleship & Leadership program where the Lord called her to serve and protect those most vulnerable. 

Isaiah 58,

6 “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?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.


We can easily get caught up in the “to-dos” of religion. We might know all the right things to say and do, but if we really look at our lives, are we truly living for Christ? God desires our whole hearts. He wants true commitment, devotion, and action. Yet, too often we allow those true acts of worship and devotion to become meaningless acts of religion instead of relationship.

Religion is exhausting, but finding true relation with Christ is rest. 


The people in Isaiah 58 were solely acting out of being religious.They were fasting, yet their lives didn’t reflect the heart of God. God speaks through his prophet Isaiah in verse 1, “Declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacon their sins.” What were their sins? In verses 2 and 3 it says, “yet they seem to want to know My ways…as if they were righteous…even in fasting they seek their own pleasure.” Their hearts weren’t in it. God calls His people to true acts of worship that reflect who He is. He calls us to fast with a heart full of the right intentions. 

A true fast denies self in order to serve others. 


In verses 6-8 He presents the right kind of fasting He wants us to participate in. A fast where we:

  • Humbles ourselves
  • Break the chains of injustice
  • Set the oppressed free
  • Share with the hungry
  • Provide shelter to the homeless
  • Care for God’s people

If we follow God’s purpose for fasting as above and live out His will for our lives He will provide us with more than we could ever ask for. Verses 10-12 say, He will bring light from our darkness, guide and satisfy our needs, and give us true joy. May this be what we receive when we live with the right heart for God. 



God, you desire a true relationship with us. You don’t want us to just go through the motions. Let this passage be a good examination of where our motivations are coming from. Help us to trust and believe your grace is enough so we don’t get caught up in legalist ways, thinking it will win your love. 


Reflection Questions: 

  1. Is there a place in my life where I am not being true?
  2. Am I engaging with God simply by acting religiously or is my heart actually engaged? 
  3. Am I actively looking for ways to love and serve others well? Especially those who are vulnerable and living in the margins?

How can we respond this Lent season?

  • Give and pray for the Ukraine relief efforts: 

Our team in Hungary is on the front lines working directly with refugees and at-risk peoples. Pray for and consider supporting relief efforts for the people of Ukraine by giving today. 100% of donations will go directly to helping those in need.

  • Join the Movement in Prayer: 

Virtual Set Free prayer meetings will occur on the last Tuesday of every month at 6:30 CTE. Join us for the first Prayer meeting on Tuesday, March 29th. Register here.


Author: Victoria Fisher

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