When the General Conference session of 1866 met in Battle Creek in May, the matter of health reform was uppermost in the minds of the leaders. James White was not able to attend on account of illness. John Byington was asked to preside. Sensing the need for immediate help from God, the General Conference Committee appointed a four-day season of fasting and prayer, beginning Wednesday, May 9, and continuing to the close of the following Sabbath. Meetings were to be free from discussions, and characterized by humiliation, fasting, and prayer on the part of the church. Business was to be suspended; the members of each church would meet at 1:00 on weekdays, and both morning and afternoon on Sabbath. The following counsel was given concerning the fast:
During these days of prayer we recommend on the part of all a very abstemious and simple diet, Daniel 10:3, while some may more or less abstain from food as their health may permit, or their feelings prompt (ibid.).
The churches responded well. J. N. Loughborough reported:
The praying seasons for the reviving of God's people, and the restoration of His servants, were especially refreshing, so much so that it seemed evident to all that the Lord by giving us freely of His Spirit said to us, "Yes, I accept you, and will work for you" (ibid., May 15, 1866).