Choosing a day for fasting and prayer takes a certain amount of discipline and determination at any time of the year. There is the positive decision and selection of a day with a resolution to let nothing hinder the use of that whole day for prayer. Then there is the negative choice involved of turning away from the normal things of that day, and recognizing that there are always important things to do, always more use for time than there is time to be used.

There is preparation to be undertaken in order to free the day from the essential duties, working ahead, and pushing other things up to be done after the prayer is over. No unbroken section of time to use for prayer falls into our laps without effort on someone’s part. The primary question is whether it is worthwhile or not. If in looking over a lifetime, or a year, there is recognition that some scattered days in that pile of calendar months would make history different if the biblical admonitions or call to prayer were taken literally, and we used some sections of time to “pray without ceasing,” then the effort must be made to mark the day or days, one at a time, to be used this way. And beyond marking the days, the people who are to be involved in such a day, need to know far enough ahead to take care of any practical preparations.

Early January ninth in the Swiss Alps could be foggy with ice freezing on trees, or there could be a blizzard with gusts of wind, or even an untimely thaw with rain mixed with snow making everything an ugly slush. However it seemed imperative not to wait longer to start the year with a day of fasting and prayer asking for God’s wisdom and strength in our weakness, and his clear guidance for the diversity of things before us in the year ahead. ...

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