President Russell M. Nelson invited members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others to participate in a worldwide fast on Sunday, March 29, 2020 to plead with the Lord for “physical and spiritual healing” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a physician and surgeon, I have great admiration for medical professionals, scientists, and all who are working around the clock to curb the spread of COVID-19,” said President Nelson in a video posted on social media on March 26. “I am also a man of faith, and I know that during these challenging times, we can be strengthened and lifted as we call upon God and His Son, Jesus Christ — the Master Healer.
“I invite you to join with me in a worldwide fast — for all whose health permits — to pray for relief from the physical, emotional and economic effects of this global pandemic. I invite members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everywhere, along with our many friends, to fast and pray this Sunday, March 29. Let us unite our faith to plead for physical, spiritual, and other healing throughout the entire world.
“The Lord understands the feelings you are experiencing. He loves and cares for you, as I do, too.”
Previous Worldwide Fasts
A president of the Church of Jesus Christ calling for a worldwide fast is rare.
In 1985, President Spencer W. Kimball invited Church members to fast for famine victims in Ethiopia.
The fast raised $6 million. Latter-day Saints participated in a second fast in November 1985 that raised another $5 million for hunger relief. (See: “Fasting: How to Fast Properly,” Gospel Principles Manual , Chapter 25.)
Three decades later, President Gordon B. Hinckley called on Church members across the globe in January 2005 to fast for victims of a tsunami that struck Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004. Triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the disaster killed more than 220,000 people in a dozen nations, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and India.
The fasting fueled emergency response and long-term assistance in the disaster zone.
Comfort and Hope for Present Worldwide Challenges
Since December 2019, COVID-19 has spread to nearly every continent, with more than half a million confirmed cases leading to 22,000 deaths. The pandemic has affected the global economy and halted travel in and out of numerous countries.
“These unique challenges will pass in due time,” wrote President Nelson in an earlier message, posted March 14 on social media. “I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.”
President Nelson continued, “So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, ‘I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.’ I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws.”