Including the invitation to fast for coronavirus relief efforts on Good Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have called for a worldwide fast a total of five times.
Leaders of the church describe a fast as going without food or water for either two consecutive meals or 24 hours. They also invite people who are in situations preventing them from fasting from food to find something else from which to "fast" to still participate.
January 1985: President Spencer W. Kimball
The first official worldwide call from an LDS prophet came 35 years ago.
From 1983 to 1985, Ethiopia suffered from a widespread famine, which left over a million dead and hundreds of thousands as refugees.
In January of 1985, Spencer W. Kimball, president of the church at the time, invited all members to fast for the famine victims. The fast raised $6 million, according to the church. The fast marked the beginning of what would become LDS Charities.
November 1985: President Spencer W. Kimball
Kimball called on Latter-day Saints again to participate in November 1985 for the people of Ethiopia.
This second fast raised $5 million more for hunger relief, totaling money raised through fasting for the famine relief effort to $11 million.
January 2005: President Gordon B. Hinkley
The church would not call for another worldwide fast for another 20 years.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Southeast Asia. The disaster killed more than 220,000 people across a dozen nations, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and India, according to the church.
In January of 2005, Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of the church, called on members worldwide to fast for the tsunami victims.
According to the church, the funds raised through the fast fueled emergency response and long-term assistance in the disaster zone.
March 2020: President Russell M. Nelson
We're all familiar by now with the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemics, from sickness and deaths to lost jobs to mental health hits. To help with the efforts fighting the virus, Nelson asked members and non members worldwide to join in a fast on Sunday, March 29.
“As a physician and surgeon, I have great admiration for medical professionals, scientists, and all who are working around the clock to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Nelson said in a social media video posted on March 26.
April 2020: President Russell M. Nelson
The church's 190th annual general conference last weekend heavily centered on celebrating the church's first prophet and president, Joseph Smith, and his teachings. But another prominent theme overlapped: the coronavirus.
During one of his conference talks, Nelson announced that he was yet again calling on the church to participate in a worldwide fast for COVID-19 relief efforts. This time, participants are asked to fast on Good Friday, April 10, rather than the church's typical fast day of Sunday.
Nelson emphasized that his invitation to fast and pray "that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized" is not just for church members, but for all.