Sabbath, April 12, has been designated as a day of special prayer and fasting in behalf of the General Conference session in Dallas, Texas, April 17-26, 1980. This we believe to be an excellent plan. It invites all our ministers in all our churches to lead their people into a fellowship of prayer that will focus on the tremendous challenges we face as we seek to meet the needs of people living in a troubled and distraught world.
The variety of problems that confront us, the intensity of the feelings that exist in many lands, and the urgency for completing our mission so that Jesus can come make this day of prayer and fasting vital for every one of us. We should pray that God will guide in the selection of leadership for His church in the General Conference session. We must also inter cede with God in behalf of the world church, that He will overrule in all its affairs so that His name may be glorified and His work be quickly finished in the earth.
The messenger of the Lord has stated: "Many are on the very verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 71. How much longer must we keep them waiting? On another occasion Ellen White wrote, "The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts?" —Ibid., p. 371.
We need to pray most earnestly that God will move in by His Holy Spirit and do a mighty work among us so that the latter rain might come in abundant showers. In this connection it is important to remember the words of the Lord through Joel, the prophet: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the hand maids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call" (Joel 2:28-32).
The "afterward" referred to in verse 28 takes us back to verses 12-17: "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Who knoweth if he will return and re pent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?"
We are requesting that the whole church devote this entire Sabbath to "a solemn assembly,", and that every age group gather for prayer and the earnest study of God's Word. Special meetings for the children and youth should be planned, in which they too may participate in this worldwide circle of prayer. From the opening of Sabbath school to the setting of the Sabbath sun, let us face up to our tremendous needs as the people of God, and ask that His power may be revealed in our lives and through His church.
Let us pray that God will spare His people from the evils that surround us, and that His church shall become the mighty agency that He has designed to provide deliverance from the captivity of Satan, and to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord.
Let us pray for the return of the many backsliders who are now out of the church.
Let us pray for the salvation of our children and youth.
Let us pray for our homes, so desperately in need of divine grace.
Let us pray for our schools as they seek to prepare our children and youth for a life of useful service for the Lord and for a place at last in His glorious kingdom.
Let us pray for our medical institutions, that they might be so guided and staffed that they shall give the winsome witness for Christ that they are intended to provide.
Let us pray for our publishing houses, that they will provide the church with Heaven-sent messages in tract and book form so that they may be taken out to the people like the "leaves of autumn." Let us pray for our churches, that they, under Christ-centered ministers and church officers, might be equipped for service and involved in the greatest soul-winning outreach ever witnessed in the history of the Christian church.
Let us pray that the Lord will overrule in the affairs of the nations so that free access might be had to all peoples in every land. We have a message to give, and the commission to give it to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
Let us pray that God will move mightily in the lives of His people to prepare them for service here and for the soon-coming kingdom of heaven.
Let us pray for the Lord to guide in the selection of leadership for the General Conference and the world divisions at the session in Dallas, and for all the plans that are laid and the actions taken in behalf of His world work.