- Why have a National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- What is the biblical foundation for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- How did National Day of Prayer and Fasting originate?
- What is the history of National Days of Prayer and Fasting in Australia?
- What other countries celebrate a National Day of Prayer?
- What is the theme and focus for National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- Who can take part in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- How do I take part in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- How can my church get involved and celebrate the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- What is the program/agenda for the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- How can I help financially to promote the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- What do you expect to be achieved through the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
- Is the NDOP only for pastors/church leaders?
- How do I register a multi church event
- How do I register a single church event
- How do I register a prayer group
- What if I can only make it for part of the day?
1. Why have a National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Australia is feeling the effect of its rampant immorality and easy divorce culture. Police are warning us of a epidemic of child pornography. Violent pornography is virtually mainstream and rape cases have been reported in primary school as our children try to act out the porn they see at home. Adultery is promoted and normalised by government decree and anyone who promotes sexual purity is mocked. Anyone who opposes the militant homosexual agenda is vilified as being homophobic and behind the times. Free speech is under threat and our Christian freedom of conscience is under attack on a broad range of issues. Drug addiction continues unabated and suicide is a leading cause of death among young people, second only to motor vehicle accidents.
Abortion is still the single biggest killer of our children with 100,000 cases of death by abortion reported on a yearly basis. The Victorian Parliament has legalised abortion up to 9 months and has some of the worst abortion laws in the world. Because of the rise of cohabitation, low marriage rates and high divorce rates we are facing a pandemic of family breakdown. Fatherlessness is one of the biggest issues facing our nation today and government policy is promoting a fatherless society. Governmental interference in families is at an all-time high and the government cannot keep up with the rising tide of child abuse. Family life in Australia is descending into relational chaos and our children are paying the price.
The answer is simple. Our nation needs to find God. We need a spiritual awakening. We need a revival and transformation and to return back to our Christian foundations as a nation “Humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God.”
Australia needs a miracle of God’s grace. That miracle will come as we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ accept the scriptural challenge found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…” This national call to prayer finds its biblical inspiration in Joel 2:15-16, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders…”
2. What is the biblical foundation for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Prayer is one of the foundational pillars of the Christian faith. Fasting is the same. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert before he began his ministry. John the Baptist and his disciples fasted. Jesus said in relation to certain cases of demon possession, “that this kind does not go but by prayer and fasting”. Matthew 17:21. Prayer and fasting was practiced by King David, Daniel the prophet, Nehemiah, and Esther as well as New Testament disciples in the book of Acts.
Prayer and fasting has been practiced throughout church history by orthodox, catholic and protestant believers. Several of the scriptural references to fasting refer to prayer for national issues during times of moral or national crisis. Australia well qualifies at this time. There were numerous National Gatherings for the purpose of prayer and fasting in the Old Testament which had ramifications for many years.
For instance, in 2 Chronicles 34 the nation followed God for a generation because of united prayer. In Nehemiah 8 when they gathered in the capital their repentance led to national reform and restitution of godly traditions.
Whether it was in ancient Judah or Israel or in gentile Nineveh, when the nation gathered, repented and worshipped God, great blessings always followed.
So we can see that a gathering of a nation’s people before God has deep roots and proven blessings in Biblical history.
For example, at the dedication of the first temple under Solomon, the whole nation gathered in Jerusalem and offered sacrifices with singers leading great worship to the Lord (I Samuel 7:4-10).
The result was God’s glory coming down on the temple.
We know that God will heal our land if His people humble themselves, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). The Hebrew word kana which is translated humble in chronicles often refers to fasting and can be implied in the meaning in many cases.
In the time of Asa, the nation assembled in the capital, offered sacrifices, covenanted to seek and follow God and worshipped joyfully, with the result that God gave them rest on every side (2 Chronicles 15:8-15).
In the days of Jehoshaphat, they gathered, fasted, prayed, the prophetic word came, they fell down and worshipped, stood up and praised the Lord, so that they saw victory in battle and rest on all sides (2 Chronicles 20:1-19).
When Hezekiah was king, he called the people to the capital, though some of them mocked, some came. They prayed, offered sacrifices, rejoiced and worshipped to see God answer their prayer and national reforms (2 Chronicles 30:1-27).
During the reign of Josiah, the nation gathered and God’s word was read out and the people covenanted to follow God so that the nation followed God for a generation (1 Chronicles 34).
In the book of Ezra we read (Ezra 10:1-17) that the nation gathered in the rain and the leaders prayed and wept and prostrated themselves before God due to the nation’s unfaithfulness with the result that behaviour changed throughout the land.
Again, in the days of Nehemiah, the nation gathered in the capital and fasted in sackcloth and ashes, confessed their sins and their fathers’ sins and had God’s word read aloud for three hours, then confessed and worshipped God for three hours. The result was that the nation covenanted to follow the Lord.
But this national humbling followed by the great blessing of God was not confined to just ancient Israel and Judah!
We know from the book of Jonah that the gentile city of Ninevah was saved from the severity of national judgment when the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s call, fasting in sackcloth and ashes, believing in the true God and calling earnestly on him and turning from their old ways.
3. How did National Day of Prayer and Fasting originate?
The NDOPF has been in discussion phase amongst several Christian leaders from many different church denominations for many years; Dr Graham McLennan, Warwick Marsh, Bill Muehlenberg to name a few. It was first raised at a meeting of the National Prayer Council at Parliament House in June 2003. It was decided at that stage to proceed with a National Day of Thanksgiving. Brian Pickering from the Australian Prayer Network is the coordinator for the National Day of Thanksgiving.
During a meeting of Christian leaders at Parliament House, Canberra for the National Prayer Breakfast on 28th February 2011 a unanimous decision was made to proceed with Australia’s first National Day of Prayer and Fasting since 1998, for marriage and family, to be held on Sunday, 24th July 2011. It is significant that the date for the first National Day of Prayer and Fasting was first proposed by Aboriginal Christian leader Ps Norman Miller from Cairns. The National Day of Prayer and Fasting is now held each year on the first Sunday before Lent and is linked with the 40 day Prayer Relay starting on Lent which has now become a worldwide movement.
The list of supporters and endorsers of the NDOPF is growing daily and now includes key Christian leaders such as Bishop Peter Elliot from the Catholic church based in Melbourne, and (former) Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Rev Harry Goodhew along with leaders such as Ps Paul Bartlett who is on the State Executive of the Australian Christian Churches and Rev Keith Garner from Wesley Mission in Sydney, to name a few.
Please find below the list of just some of those Christian leaders who were part of the initial launch of the NDOPF at the meeting at Parliament House. Also included is Sue Tinworth from ‘Partners in Prayer Australia’ who has been a strong supporter of the National Day of Prayer and Fasting and is the coordinator of the 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting during Lent.
- Dr Graham McLennan: National Alliance of Christian Leaders, Orange
- Ps Matt Prater: New Hope Brisbane
- Ps Ben Irawan: Life Centre International, Sydney
- Ps Matt Madigan: The Hope Project Church, Sydney
- Wesley Leake: Business Blessings, Brisbane
- Sue Tinworth: Partners in Prayer Australia, Melbourne
- Dr Hilary Moroney: Canberra House of Prayer for All Nations
- Warwick Marsh: Australian Christian Values Institute, Wollongong
- Bruce Lindley: Harvest International Ministries, Gold Coast
- Ps Norman Miller: Centre for International Reconciliation & Peace, Cairns
- David & Marilyn Rowsome: Canberra Declaration, Brisbane
- Darryl Stewart: Illawarra Pastors Network
- Bill Muehlenberg: CultureWatch, Melbourne
4. What is the history of National Days of Prayer and Fasting in Australia?
Prayer has always played a central role in the affairs of our nation. Our federal and state parliaments have traditionally opened in prayer. The feasts of Christmas and Easter as well as ANZAC Day are times of individual and national reflection, and prayer is often an integral part of ceremonial occasions. Australians have prayed as individuals, as a community, and as a nation – particularly in times of hardship and crisis.
Fifty years after the arrival of the first fleet, the Governor of NSW, George Gipps, a Christian, proclaimed Sunday, November 2, 1838 a national day of fasting and humiliation because of the severe drought. Within two days heavy rains began to fall to such a degree that many came down with the flu.
Fifty seven years later, on the 11 September, 1895 a day of prayer was again called in similar circumstances. Three weeks later a day of thanksgiving was proclaimed to thank God for the breaking of the drought.
The first Sunday in the 20th Century was proclaimed Commonwealth Sunday and Christians were called to pray for the nation. During the 1940s as the Second World War began to take its horrific toll and Australia was being threatened, particularly after the bombing of Darwin, several days of prayer were held. One of these was called by King George VI throughout the Commonwealth.
Within another fifty years, at Australia’s Bicentenary, another National Day of Prayer occurred on Saturday the 7th May 1988 when 50,000 Christians gathered to open Parliament House in prayer during the National Gathering.
Many other national prayer days were held, most notably the National Day of Prayer and Fasting which was held on the 6th November 1998 and was called by Ps Peter Walker and the Praise Corroboree prayer movement with a letter of support from Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley. In 2007 the Australian Prayer Network called the National Solemn Assembly in Canberra. Another more recent initiative is the National Day of Thanksgiving which has been celebrated every year in May since 2004.
5. What other countries celebrate a National Day of Prayer (NDOPF)?
United Kingdom, USA, New Zealand, Canada and the Global Day of Prayer which came from South Africa. Many other nations have an annual National Day of Prayer.
6. What is the theme and focus for National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
The vision of the National Day of Prayer and Fasting is the spiritual renewal and transformation of our nation through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal is to hold a National Day of Prayer and Fasting every year on the Saturday before Lent begins, and to use the National Day of Prayer and Fasting as a springboard to promote a 40 day period of prayer and worship during Lent. Many churches are already praying through Lent and over 50% of Australian Christians have a tradition of prayer and doing without for the purpose of faith development.
During the period of Lent there is a clear focus on what Jesus Christ has done through the work of the Cross which helps bring clarity of purpose and makes unifying across denominational barriers easier. The focus for the second year 2013 of the 5 Year Prayer Plan was LIFE. New life in God and a turning of the tide of the culture of death. We prayed for an end to abortion and the push for euthanasia and a release of a culture of life in our nation. The theme for 2014 was REVIVAL with an emphasis on sexual purity. The theme for 2015 was australia’s Destiny in Christ. The theme for 2016 was JESUS. The theme for 2017 is the Power of the Holy Spirit through an Acts Chapter 2 outpouring. The theme for 2018 was “Christ Crucified.” The theme for 2019 is the “Fathers Love.” Every year has a new theme.
In 1901, at the time of Federation, 96.1% of Australians claimed to be Christians. The last census in 2011 only 61.1% of Australians called themselves Christians. The real figures for those who practice their faith through Church attendance is much worse. Church attendance has been falling since Federation with only 8.8% going to church weekly. If we are going to have a Revival Breakthrough we need to see churches filled with people who believe in Revival and all that it brings. When a child is born new life comes into the world and when an individual is born again Gods life brings revival to the human heart and true transformation begins.
Our nation is falling into deep moral decay Jesus Christ is the only answer (John 14:6). Our nation needs to find God. As it says in Acts 17:27, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God… and find him”. Our nation can only find God as each individual finds Christ (Acts 2:38-40). That miracle will come as we accept the scriptural challenge found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…”
This national call to prayer finds its biblical inspiration in Joel 2:15-16, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders…”
Now is the time for action. We as people of faith must rise to the occasion and seek God. “Come let us know, let us press on to know the Lord… and He will come to us…” Hosea 6:3. The only answer for us as a nation is a national awakening. We encourage the Christian people of Australia to rise up and “stand in the gap on behalf of the land” as in Ezekiel 22:30.
Now is the time to make a stand for the truth. Now is the time to share the good news of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Now is the time to see this nation fulfil its destiny as the ‘Great South Land of the Holy Spirit’.
7. Who can take part in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Anyone who feels they would like to partner in prayer for the health of the nation.
8. How do I take part in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Register at the website to indicate your interest:
Join with fellow Christians from other churches in a regional event or help make a regional event happen. If for some reason you are unable to do this you can organise your own smaller National Day of Prayer and Fasting event in your church or in your home and pray on the day as you are able.9. How can my church get involved and celebrate the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Ask your church to register online and consider hosting a single church or multi church event. Then they can receive information about the Day of Prayer and Fasting. Prayer points and scripture reading will be posted.
10.What is the program/agenda for the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
Each year watch the website to indicate where the multi church and single church events will be hosted. There the program will be divided up in to short segments of worship, small group and corporate payer, as well as short 3 minute greeting from Christian leaders, combined with scripture readings and audiovisual presentations. The aim will be to honour the many church leaders and different denominations involved in praying or supporting the day, as well as making sure the focus is kept on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
11. How can I financially support the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
As there is considerable cost involved in promoting this nation changing event across Australia, any financial help you are able to give would be greatly appreciated. Costs involve hiring of a multi church venues, equipment hire, video work, promotion, printing, website development, sending out letters of invitation to parliamentarians and church leaders and the distribution of media releases.
Australian Heart Ministries is helping to organize the National Day of Prayer and Fasting and has a long history of support for missions, media, restoration of Christian values, evangelism, 24-7 prayer and worship and support and promotion of national prayer events. When giving, please include the NDOPF code in the message section of the online giving page. A receipt will be issued from Australian Heart Ministries. Make a donation at: http://www.nationaldayofprayer.com.au/donate/
12. What do you expect to be achieved through the National Day of Prayer and Fasting?
God has promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we will pray, humble ourselves, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. God is a God of answered prayer, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think”.
13. Is the NDOPF only for pastors/church leaders?
The National Day of Prayer and Fasting is open to everyone! In 2017 there were 54 multi church events covering the nation. From Darwin to Burnie and Alice Springs. Cairns to Bunbury to Warnanmbool and into all the Capital cities. Brisbane was lit up in Gold at the Storey Bridge for 3 nights. We would love to have a group at your church praying with us on the day.
14. How do I register my church prayer group?
15. How do I register a single church event?
16. How do I register a prayer group?
17. What if I can only make it for part of the day?
Come to any registered event and pray for however long you are able. Participants are free to come and go as they are able.