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Worldwide fast unites on Good Friday

FILE- NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: With Vitality Kuzmin carrying the cross, the Way of the Cross procession makes its way across the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday, April 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Religious leaders have spent the week encouraging people to come together for a worldwide fast on Good Friday.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for a day of fasting during last weekend’s General Conference.

 

“For all whose health may permit, let us fast, pray, and unite our faith once again. Let us prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic,” he said. “I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray … on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”

The National Association of Evangelicals this week also asked for people to fast today. And Good Friday is traditionally a day of fasting for Catholics, but this time it comes with new purpose.

 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, issued a declaration for a Good Friday intention — a celebration of the Eucharist for a particular purpose — for the pandemic.

Fasting in different faiths generally means skipping full meals, limiting food or sacrificing something else for a time period.

“How do we fast? Two meals, or a period of 24 hours, is customary. But you decide what would constitute a sacrifice for you, as you remember the supreme sacrifice the Savior made for you,” said President Nelson.

Religions teach that fasting humbles the individual and brings people closer to God. It also helps you think of people who have less than you.

Fasting is also accompanied with prayer.

“Let us unite in pleading for healing throughout the world,” said President Nelson.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert encouraged all Utahns of any or no faith to come together.

“As I invite everyone to join me and my family and others around the state and around the country and the world that we add to that not just the prayer aspect to that but to find someone to help. Let’s not only pray but do something to help our neighbors,” he said in his daily news conference.

“We’re all in this together,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese to the Deseret News. “There’s no way of protecting ourselves from this virus by ourselves.”

A Facebook group that formed in the days after President Nelson’s announcement now has nearly a half-million members.

“I am Egyptian and a member of the Coptic Church. I will fast and pray with you. God help us,” says one post.

“Hello and greetings to you all my dear friends. Today is Good Friday here in Pakistan me and my family will pray for all of you,” says another.