World Day of Prayer set for Friday

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On Friday Christian women from around the world, in more than 170 countries will join hearts in prayer for this year’s theme, “Under God’s Tent” or “Unidas bajo el manto de Dios” written by the World Day of Prayer women of Paraguay. This international ecumenical movement began in 1968 and has several purposes through the one goal of prayer and action.

On Friday, women the world over will “affirm their faith in Christ, share their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, their opportunities and their needs,” according to www.worlddayofprayer.net.

The common goals women strive for on the first Friday in March are to be encouraged to be more aware of what is going on in the world and to shed the tendency to isolation. Other goals include burden sharing and praying for others’ needs; to use their talents in the service of society; and to be enriched by experiences of those living in other countries and their faith, as well as their traditions.

Locally, Christian women will gather at First United Methodist Church for prayer worship in the sanctuary at noon, and afterwards in the fellowship hall, a potato soup lunch.

Special music, “Don’t Stop Praying For Me,” will be brought by the Ladies Ensemble of FUMC; and by Melinda Dukes of Parkview Baptist Church. The program incorporates women from several denominations.

The growth of this ecumenical common day of prayer stems from the closer fellowship of women from different races and cultures who searched for a better understanding of each other. When women participate in the worship service prepared by their sisters in other countries, they are better able to grasp how those cultures respond to biblical passages in their context.

Hearing the needs and concerns of others helps to forge a solidarity with them, the offical website states. Women of different denominations are then able to draw together in understanding which produces a deep ecumenical expression of faith in action.

A fledgling World Day of Prayer was a cooperative initiative between Christian women of Canada and the U.S. supporting women’s involvement in home missions and foreign missions in 1861. The major realm of concern was for women and children around the world, therefore the cooperative group sought ways to reach them and provide support for them.

Since Paul’s day, churches have been praying for missions. However, in 1887 Presbyterian women called for a Day of Prayer for Home Missions and Methodist women called for a week of prayer and self-denial for foreign missions. A Baptist Day of Prayer for foreign missions began in 1891; and in 1895 the Women’s Auxiliary of the Anglican Church of Canada began corporate intercessions for missions. In two more years, the women of six denominations had formed a committee to organize a united day of prayer for home missions.

The next step was forming a core group to provide publications which would help women of the day become more learned about various cultures and traditions of women around the world. It also led to studying the biblical principles of missions.

In 1910-1911 the Jubilee (50th Anniversary) of women’s missionary societies was celebrated. The ecumenical group set up numerous speaking engagements to share with the women of the U.S. what had been achieved through cooperative prayer, concerted effort, and biblical reflection. Many more local groups were formed because of it. Then in 1926 the worship service prepared by women of North America for their day of prayer was distributed internationally with such an enthusiastic response that in 1927 the call to prayer was issued for a World Day of Prayer for Missions.

“The circle of prayer has expanded literally around the world. We have learned the great lesson of praying with, rather than for, our sister of other races and nations, thus enriching our experience and releasing the power which must be ours if we are to accomplish tasks entrusted to us,” stated the 1927 World Day of Prayer Committee.