Dear Virginia Annual Conference,
As I type this letter, I write it with an urgency to call the entire conference to join me and the Call to Action Work Group for Racial Justice and Reconciliation for a three-day period of “Prayer and Fasting for the Healing of the Nation” from October 31-November 2, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
I encourage everyone to commit to fasting and praying during these three days that we might be more aware of Christ’s presence in our personal lives, the Commonwealth, and the nation. Prayer is essential to sustain our faith and fasting calls us to refocus our attention and listen for God.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We can no longer pretend and turn a blind eye that our nation is in the midst of trouble. We are witnessing the tension between party lines coupled with our anger that governs our speech. We are fighting two pandemics—COVID-19 and systemic racism— that have taken the lives of individuals and forced us into a world of pain and suffering.
How are we as Christians called to act in this unprecedented time? How are we as Christians called to live out our civic duties? I believe God is calling us to a time for deeper soul searching, reflection, and repentance that leads us to daily prayer and fasting. Our United Methodist Church Social Principles state, “we hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of people to free and fair elections.” I encourage all of you in the Commonwealth to exercise your right to vote as we seek God’s direction for our country.
In the designated twelve-hour period, I encourage you to pray, fast, and spend time with God. You may choose a total, water, partial or juice fast. Please fast only if your health allows it at this time. If you can’t restrict your food or liquid intake abstain from something else – like social media, watching television, fast foods, desserts, etc.
If you have reservations or want more information about fasting, the attached document describes the significant components in understanding the spiritual discipline of fasting.
I pray as an annual conference we will experience the power and presence of God in an extraordinary way as we commit ourselves from October 31 to November 2, 2020 to pray for the healing of the nation.
Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis