World Day of Prayer - March 6, 2015
The World Day of Prayer will be celebrated this year on Friday, March 6. First held in 1927, this international ecumenical Christian laywomen’s initiative has grown to encompass 170 countries around the world, and is held each year on the first Friday of March. The movement brings women of various races, cultures and traditions together yearly in a common Day of Prayer, as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year. Through the World Day of Prayer, women affirm that prayer and action are inseparable, and that both have immeasurable influence in the world. The motto of the World Day of Prayer is “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action.”
The spirituality of the World Day of Prayer is one of inclusion, acceptance and support. Each year a different country or region takes responsibility for developing the theme and resources for the celebration. This year’s worship service, developed by the women of the WDP Committee of the Bahamas, considers Jesus’ words to the disciples after washing their feet: “Do you understand what I have done for you?” They describe Jesus’ actions as “radical love” that comes from humility, compassion and commitment. God’s radical love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in.
Former WDP Executive Director, Eileen King, offers this reflection on the spirituality of World Day of Prayer, and the profound impact of “praying with” rather than “praying for” our sisters (and brothers) in need.
Ecumenical Spirituality of
World Day of Prayer
Executive Director, 1987 - 2012
World Day of Prayer International Committee
Perhaps you have seen maps of the world that are not centered from an expected or familiar perspective. For example when the Southern Hemisphere is displayed on top, one’s orientation is literally turned upside down. In theory one knows that the earth is round and suspended in space and so the world can be accurately viewed from any point. But our first impulse is to turn the map around because we feel lost. Even when we have seen satellite images of the earth with no borders we cannot resist adjusting the image until what is familiar is at the center and then to see others in relation to ourselves.
Thus the ecumenical spirituality of World Day of Prayer, which is celebrated in 170 countries, is a process that shifts our perspective to a different country each year. While the theme was chosen and assigned at a quadrennial international meeting of WDP Committees, the development of the theme into a worship service is conducted by women of WDP in that writer country. Their preparation strives to be done in an attentive, mutually supportive process so that the worship service will authentically reflect the multi-dimensions of their context, their faith experiences from the various church traditions in their country, and their cultural influences. The worldwide network of women of WDP are committed to listen intensely to what their sisters will say—in effect they hear the women of that writer country into speaking. Truly, one is able to speak when one knows that she is being heard.
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