World Day of Prayer
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The World Day of Prayer is an international ecumenical Christian laywomen’s initiative. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action,” and is celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March. The movement aims to bring together women of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer, as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.
History and Alternates
The Women's World Day of Prayer started in the USA in 1887, as Mary Ellen Fairchild James, wife of Darwin Rush James from Brooklyn, New York, called for a day of prayer for home missions, and Methodist women called for a week of prayer and self-denial for foreign missions. Two years later, two Baptists called together a Day of Prayer for the World Mission. The Day of Prayer initiated by these two women expanded to Canada, then to the British Isles in the 1930s. The movements focus on ecumenism and reconciliation led to growth after World War II. Since 1927 the March day is known as Women’s World Day of Prayer. Catholic women were allowed to join the movement after the Second Vatican Council, beginning in 1967, and united what had been their May day of prayer with the March Women's World Day of Prayer in 1969.
Two other Christian denominations celebrate a World Day of Prayer in September. The Unity Church, a New Thought Protestant denomination headquartered at Unity Village, Missouri celebrates a twenty-four-hour World Day of Prayer principally on the second Thursday in September (member churches may start at sunset on September 11, and the themes differ from those of the Women's World Day of Prayer set forth below). Also, the terrorist events of September 11, 2001 prompted the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fellowship, to designate that date annually as a World Day of Prayer for Peace.
Through the World Day of Prayer, women are encouraged to become aware of the other countries and cultures and no longer live in isolation. They are also encouraged take up the burdens of other people, to sympathize with the problems of other countries and cultures and pray with and for them. They are further encouraged to become aware of their talents and use them in the service of society. The World Day of Prayer aims to demonstrate that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world.
Every year, worship service focuses on a different country and a specific theme. World Day of Prayer National/Regional Committees of that country prepare the order of worship on these themes to be used on the next World Day of Prayer.
On the first Friday of March, then, in services all over the world that country becomes the focus of prayer and understanding. Through preparation and participation in the worship service, women worldwide learn how their sisters of other countries, languages and cultures understand the biblical passages in their context. They learn of the concerns and needs of those women and to empathize and feel in solidarity with them.
World Day of Prayer themes and writer countries
Forthcoming World Day of Prayer themes and writer countries
|2018||All God's Creation is Very Good||Suriname|
|2019||Come, Everything is Ready||Slovenia|
|2020||Rise, Take up your Mat and Walk||Zimbabwe|
|2021||Build on a Strong Foundation||Vanuatu|
First World Prayer for Peace from Jerusalem
The first globally publicized "link of prayer" for peace from Jerusalem was in June, 1993 organized by Dan Mazar's Jerusalem Christian Review, a Jerusalem-based archaeological journal. The event included more than 100 Christian and political leaders from around the world and was broadcast by satellite and radio live from Jerusalem.
Hosted by Jerusalem Christian Review Managing Editor Dan Mazar, parts of the Global Prayer were also shown on the CNN, CBS, and ABC television networks and almost 120 other television stations worldwide. The Prayer Link began from Los Angeles, California with a prayer from the former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan: "I join my friends at the Jerusalem Christian Review... for this very special day. A day dedicated to prayer..." said the former US president and governor of the State of California. The "prayer link" also included prayers of political figures live by satellite from 5 continents. Leaders such as Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick and numerous U.S. Senators, as well as former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke all prayed for the "Peace of Jerusalem". Also included were Christian evangelists Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, along with denominational leaders from Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.
- World Day of Prayer
- England, Wales, Northern Ireland
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