Devout Christians in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate Week of Prayer for Christian Unity every year from January 18 to January 25. During this week, Christians are reminded of Jesus’s prayer for his disciples and everyone’s well-being. Christians remember Jesus’s devotion and come together to pray for their unity. Churches exchange or invite non-denominational preachers to share general sermons at special services. Roman Catholic representatives refine the liturgical text to ensure that it can be prayed around the world, to encourage unity among churches and their followers.
History of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
In 1908, there was the Octave of Christian Unity which focused on praying for church unity, and whose dates were put forward by Father Paul Wattson. He chose the week beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter on January 18, concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on 25 January. Pope Pius X approved the concept and Benedict XV encouraged its observance throughout the Roman Catholic Church. In the 1920s, the Protestants proposed their own octave of prayer for unity to occur during the week of Pentecost every year.
In 1941, the Faith and Order Conference changed the date to the one observed by Catholics, from January 18 to 25. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gained worldwide recognition among churches when the World Council of Churches was established in 1948. By 1958, the French Catholic group Unité Chrétienne, and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, began co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Prayer.
In 1968, churches used notes and texts created through the joint effort of the Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity officially for the first time. The cooperation between these two organizations has grown since, resulting in joint publications in the same format, said to represent the entire Catholic Church.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity timeline
The church splits into Eastern and Western segments.
The church officially splits into Catholicism and Protestantism.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins as proposed by Father Paul Wattson, with prayers for church unity.
The Protestants propose an annual octave of prayer for unity amongst Christians to be held during the week of the Pentecost.
A fellowship of churches that accept Jesus Christ as God and Savior is established.
The church starts the first official use of materials prepared jointly by the Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity FAQs
What is the goal of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?
The unity of the many church denominations across the world. Each year, the theme and material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are produced by the local churches of a particular country. This enables churches throughout the world to learn something about local cultures and Christian practices from different places.
What is the principal effect of receiving Holy Communion?
The principal effect of receiving Holy Communion is the strengthening of our relationship with Christ. The Eucharist gives us life and allows us to connect with Christ.
What does Christianity believe in?
Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth, and the universe. Christians believe Jesus is the ‘Messiah’ or savior of the world.
How to Observe Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Join the prayers
Join the prayers at your church this week. Ask your neighbors, friends, and family to accompany you to church.
Volunteer and donate
A secular alternative is to offer to volunteer with nonprofit groups during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Also donate, raise funds, and volunteer your time to help the needy.
Study the “Bible”
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a great time to study the “Bible.” Read your favorite passages and find out how to be a good Christian.
5 Fascinating Facts About The Church
The “Bible” was the first-ever book printed
Johannes Gutenberg was Catholic, so it’s probably a no-brainer that he printed the sacred book first.
The highest crime rate in the world
The Vatican City has a population of around 500 people, and the crime rate is above 100% per capita.
Catholic churches spend a lot
Expenditures by the Catholic Church exceeded $170 billion in 2012.
The Pope has a special security unit
The Swiss Papal Guard has existed since 1506, making it the oldest active military unit today.
The church provides healthcare too
About 15% of all hospitals in the U.S. are Catholic.
Why Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Important
A week to seek blessings
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is the week to seek blessings. The week reminds us that by placing our faith in Jesus, all our prayers can be answered.
Faith for a harmonious future
The prayers made during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity build faith for unity among all Christians. The celebrations envision a harmonious future for the world in extension.
Encourages us to be kind
The week of praying and giving encourages us to be kind. It is all about understanding and embracing differences for the greater good.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity dates