Students at the University of Virginia kicked off their 40 days of prayer and fasting on Sunday, leading up to the national Collegiate Day of Prayer next month.
At the university, located in Charlottesville, the community's Operation Esther Circle prayer group will partner with university students and the college's Student Prayer Collective to hold weekly prayer meetings in the 40 days leading up to the event on Feb. 25.
Debra Yarde, Operation Esther Prayer Circle leader, told NBC 29 News that the 40 days of prayer and fasting serve as good preparation to the Collegiate Day of Prayer.
"In colleges around the United States our future leaders are there, our future politicians are there. So, we want to make sure prayer is in the forefront of their life," Yarde told the local media station.
The Luke 18 Project, a campus prayer movement organizing the 40 day prayer and fasting event, states on its website that the idea to hold the 40 day event comes from the biblical story of Jesus going into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray.
"As Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray before He 'returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,' what could happen if the college students of America gave themselves to 40 days to fast and pray for another Jesus movement in our nation?" the Luke 18 Project questions on its official website.
2016 marks the 200th year that colleges across the nation have participated in the national Collegiate Day of Prayer, where students are encouraged to unite and pray for the fate of their nation.
As of Monday, 105 colleges in the U.S. are set to participate in the Collegiate Day of Prayer.
The purpose of the Collegiate Day of Prayer is explained on its official website, which calls on the importance of instilling prayer and faith in younger generations of Americans for the sake of the country.
"As the students go, so goes our nation! If we win the spiritual battles across our nation but neglect our college campuses, all our progress will be undone in a generation," the Collegiate Day of Prayer states.
"Therefore, students today need our support and earnest prayers. However, college students don't just need more prayer, they need our UNITED prayer. Without a greater degree of genuine, unified prayer, our hopes and dreams for this generation may never be realized.
"According to Matthew 18:18-20, the greater the number united in faith and prayer, the easier the battle for this generation can be won. Just as a team of horses can move a heavy load faster and easier together, so our greatest barriers can be better overcome through united prayer," the Collegiate Day of Prayer organizers add.