Today, Friday, March 4 is the World Day of Prayer. Christian women of 79 languages and 150 countries will be united in prayer for social issues affecting women and children and for peace. May the united force of their prayer be an instrument to bring peace to the Ukrainian people this year.
The World Day of Prayer originates with the Women’s Inter-Church Council in Canada and has been in existence for 100 years. It was inspired by Presbyterian and Baptist women from the U.S. In 1918, representatives of the Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Congregational and Methodist churches met to create a united coalition to spread Christian prayer and give a voice to national concerns. Their meetings were interrupted due to an influenza epidemic. That sure sounds familiar!
The history continues and eventually, in 1945, the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada came into being. The tireless work of these Christian women is impressive. Always true to the mission of prayer, they have also taken on social issues such as human trafficking, violence against women, the feminization of poverty and the Sisters in Spirit campaign to raise awareness and bring an end to violence against Indigenous women in Canada.
The motto of the World Day of Prayer is “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action.” This is powerful and calls us to the reality that without action, our faith is dead. Reading through the resources on the website, I am struck by the richness of the mission of their movement and the cross-cultural, ecumenical nature of their work. We can sometimes sit in our silos of Christian faith, forgetting that the desire of Jesus would be that we were all united as one body. Pope Francis has spoken of the blessings of unity in faith through his friendship and cooperation with various Christian and non-Christian denominations. We can all benefit from following his example.
The themes of the World Day of Prayer are inspired. This year’s theme is, “I Know the Plans I Have for You.” As people of faith, we cannot forget that despite the many hardships and challenges we face, we are held by a loving God who has great plans for all people. I love the message on their website that states “we hope to inspire everyone to pray more.” I am inspired and as my own prayer life has its peaks and valleys, more prayer is the answer. Bless all who are involved in this wonderful movement. Visit the the websites of the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada and the World Day of Prayer for more information. May we continue to unite in prayer. It is more powerful than any force on earth!
Jan Bentham is a retired Religion Coordinator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is a musician, serving in music ministry at St. Ignatius Parish in Ottawa. She currently works at St. Paul’s University with the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program.