Call to Prayer and Fasting
The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church is issuing this Call to Prayer and Fasting in preparation for the 2000 General Conference. We are inviting each delegation to General Conference to a time of Christian conferencing, and we are inviting all United Methodists to join us in a season of prayer and fasting beginning forty days prior to General Conference and continuing through the entire General Conference.
The focus of this season of prayer and fasting is to ask God to work through the General Conference to guide our United Methodist Church in becoming more effective in its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
We remember the words of John Wesley about the importance of seeking God's guidance:
"In a Christian believer, love sits upon the throne which is erected in the inmost soul- namely, love of God and [humanity], which fills the whole heart, and reigns without a rival. In a circle near the throne are all holy tempers: --longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness, fidelity, temperance: and if any other is comprised in 'the mind which was in Christ Jesus.' In an exterior circle are all the works of mercy, which to the soul or bodies of (human beings]... Next to these are those that are usually termed works of piety; reading and hearing the Word, public, family, private prayer, receiving the Lord's Supper, fasting or abstinence. Lastly, that his followers may more effectually provoke one another to love, holy tempers, and good works, our blessed Lord has united them together in one body, the Church."
The Works of John Wesley edited by Albert C. Outler Volume 3, Sermon 92, On Zeal, p.313.
The Wesley Fast, traditionally observed, begins with dinner on Thursday evening and continues until tea time on Friday. Time and energy that would have been consumed in eating is offered for deeper prayer, meditation and works of charity and compassion. When, for health reasons such a fast is not advisable, persons are encouraged to adjust the fast to their personal needs. Please remember to drink plenty of juice and water.
Each bishop is making a personal commitment to the "Wesley Fast" during this period of 40 days prior to General Conference. We are inviting all General Conference delegates to join us. Together with the delegates, we invite all United Methodists in this area to unite with us in prayer and fasting.
The following resources are already in preparation through the Worship Committee of the Council of Bishops:
A meditation booklet is being prepared which will be mailed to all bishops and delegates prior to the forty days preceding General Conference.
A prayer chain is being formed to focus upon prayers for the General Conference.
A prayer Chapel is being prepared at the site of General Conference. Bishops will be signing up for specific prayer times so that we may "pray without ceasing" during the whole General Conference.
Your bishops are asking that plans be made for a small conference room to be made available for individual spiritual direction, guidance and conversation during the hours that General Conference is in session. At least one bishop will be present for guidance and conferencing with persons who seek their counsel.
In addition, we suggest these resources for this time of prayer and fasting:
The Conversation Matters - Why United Methodists Should Talk With One Another, Henry H. Knight III and Mon F. Sailiers. Abingdon; 1999. Recovering the Wesleyan art of Christian conference - theological debate and "speaking the truth in love." (No longeravailable from Cokesbury, link to Amazon.com - 2010)
A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader. Bishop Rueben P. Job. Abingdon, 1997. 26 weeks of daily devotional guidance drawn from John Wesley and some contemporary commentators, $16.00, item #057019
Grace Upon Grace, The Mission Statement of The United Methodist Church. Graded Press, 1990. The mission statement adopted by the 1958 General Conference with commentary, worship resources and a five-session study guide, (Unavailable as of 08/2010)
All three resources are available from Cokesbury (call 1-800-672-1789, visit at www.cokesbury.com or your local Cokesbury store). Special quantity discounts to support the Bishop's Pastoral Letter. 10-30 copies of any one of these resources available at 20% off, 30 or more copies available at` 30% off. (Prices good through April 30, 2000.)