- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Middle East, nuclear arms, natural disasters and now Ukraine.

The 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting for Peace has been highlighting crises around the world for years, and this year, the focus is on the unrest in Eastern Europe.

“This particular one, we’re praying because of the current tensions in Russia, Ukraine, and Western nations,” said Maureen Flynn, one of the coordinators of the fast, which began Monday. “I think because of the situation in the world right now … people are feeling more concerned now than ever before.”

Participants are encouraged to read Scripture, and to fast or sacrifice something of their choosing.

“Some kind of sacrifice, penitential, something difficult,” Ms. Flynn said. “Maybe give up coffee. Some are doing a bread-and-water fast two days a week. Some are making more simple meals, and the money they’re saving they donate to some charity.”

The 40-day effort got its start in 2003, Ms. Flynn said, just as President George W. Bush announced that American soldiers would be invading Iraq.

Ms. Flynn said a small group in the D.C. area began talking about their concerns for the future and turned to prayer as a way to face the unknown.

Though early participants came from Catholic groups, several Christian organizations and human rights groups now are involved, Ms. Flynn said. Among them are Defend Life, Christian Women in Action, Students for Life of America, the Pittsburgh Center for Peace, and Priests for Life.

Ms. Flynn said some participants felt they couldn’t wait for the International Day of Prayer for Peace in late September.

“There’s a saying that you can do more in one day of intense prayer than in years of discussion,” she said. “I know many people believe that, on a spiritual level … people coming together and prayer can change the world.”

The 40-day event runs through June 6. For more information visit http://40daysofprayerandfasting.org.