Recognizing that our greatest need is “a revival of true godliness among us,”[i] in September 2010, administrators for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) tasked the Ministerial Association at the Adventist World Church headquarters with establishing a committee, comprised of representatives from different departments and organizations within the GC family, to brainstorm ideas and initiatives encouraging revival and reformation within the Church.
Out of this Revival and Reformation Committee emerged several initiatives focusing on prayer, Bible study and personal outreach. The first of these programs, the 777 Prayer Initiative, called for prayer at 7 am and 7 pm daily in each time zone around the world. Ten Days of Prayer, formerly known as Operation Global Rain, soon followed.
Around this same time, it was recommended that days of prayer and fasting be set aside, based on Ellen G. White’s counsel given in Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 188: “Now and onward till the close of time the people of God should be more earnest, more wide-awake, not trusting in their own wisdom, but in the wisdom of their Leader. They should set aside days for fasting and prayer…”
Subsequently, in 2012, quarterly days of prayer and fasting were launched. Over the years the program has evolved to include written material for churches and small groups to utilize. Different authors have touched on a variety of topics, including interceding for families and relationships, becoming world-changing prayer warriors, praying over spiritual breaches, and growing strong through trials. The most recent theme, used for the third quarter on Sabbath, July 3, focused on praying for a heart like Jesus.
Why Prayer and Fasting?
Cindy Tutsch, former associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate, wrote for the Revival and Reformation Committee: “Jesus longed for His fledgling church to come together in purpose, harmony, and mission. Today, amid perhaps unprecedented polarization in the world, our nations, and our church, we too need to heed Jesus' counsel to seek His Spirit and come together for mission. The task seems daunting and impossible in our humanity. That's why we need to pray as never before for the miracle of reconciliation that only God can bring.”
Melody Mason, author of this year’s materials and United in Prayer coordinator for the World Church, agrees. “There’s a power when we come together in unity. When we pray together, the Bible tells us that ‘wherever two or three are gathered together, He is there in their midst’—He is with us. This corporate Day of Prayer and Fasting is just a beautiful time for us to press together as a Church with one vision, one prayer focus, seeking Him together. That’s why we’ve been doing it for a number of years.”
And the reason for fasting? Mason says, “We fast because we are in earnest for God’s blessing. When we read the Bible, we see that fasting is not an option. It’s a given. Matthew 6:17 doesn’t say, ‘If you fast,’ but rather, ‘When you fast.’ If we study all the fasts in the Bible, we find that every time God’s people prayed and fasted, God worked mightily on their behalf—from deliverance from enemies in battle to supernatural deliverance from prison to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost…Fasting has always been part of the lifestyle of believers, just like prayer and Bible study…”
Participants don’t necessarily need to fast from food; there may be other things they choose to abstain from like social media, television, or other diversions. “The main point of fasting is removing distractions so we can seek Jesus more wholeheartedly,” Mason shares.
More people are sensing the importance of corporate prayer. Jerry Page, Ministerial Association secretary, says that participation in the Day of Prayer and Fasting has increased over the years. This year, nearly 5,000 participants downloaded materials in multiple languages for their churches or small groups.
A typical resource packet includes instructions for group leaders or Prayer Ministries facilitators, sermon preparation notes, a children’s story, a devotional reading for an afternoon prayer program, prayer focus handouts, powerful prayer promises for participants to claim as they pray together, and resources for leading a united prayer session.
The first Sabbath of fourth quarter, October 2, will feature the three angels’ messages and righteousness by faith, a subject that has had a renewed thrust recently. In fact, the General Conference has developed a new website, threeangels.info, with videos, articles, audio presentations, books and curricula dedicated to the three angels’ messages. Page says that this resource was produced to “create an awareness of and explanation for members who may not be familiar with or understand the significance of the three angels’ messages.”
If you’ve never participated in a day of prayer and fasting, the Revival and Reformation Committee extends a personal invitation: “Recognizing our urgent need to be personally changed, and sensing our desperate need of the Holy Spirit so we can share the good news with others, we invite you to join our church family for a special day of prayer and fasting.” Join thousands of others as they pray “to understand Bible truth in a fresh way, to grow faith for the hard times, and to gain Holy Spirit power to witness and share.”
Visit revivalandreformation.org for more prayer resources and Day of Prayer and Fasting materials. Archived themes are also available for small group and Prayer Ministries events.
[i] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 121