World Day of Prayer is celebrated on the first Friday of March each year to encourage Christian women to engage in personal prayer and lead communal prayer within their mission auxiliaries and associations. Women have a strong sense of identification with the needs of other women and children and are better suited to provide the appropriate support. Since 1861, despite strong resistance from the all-male mission boards, women have established a number of effective boards for foreign and home missions working directly with and for women and children. World Day of Prayer is an initiative of one such board, which aims to make the lives of women and children easier by offering resources and support.
History of World Day of Prayer
In the 19th century, Christian women of the U.S. and Canada began engaging in cooperative activities to support women’s involvement in missions across the world. In 1887, Presbyterian women called for a day of prayer for home missions which the Methodist women joined from 1892 to 1894 after calling for a week of prayer. The Baptist started a day of prayer for foreign missions in 1891.
Forming a committee in 1897, women from six denominations would eventually start a united day of prayer for home missions. These women took turns in the other participating denominations and organized the common worship service. In 1912, the Woman’s Board of Foreign Missions decided that there should be a united day of prayer for foreign missions that would be observed in different parts of the world.
After the success of the Ecumenical Missionary Conference in New York City in 1900, a group of laywomen organized an interdenominational Central Committee for United Study that prepared publications, summer conferences, study days, and courses so that women could be up-to-date about the lives of women in other parts of the world. These courses also enabled them to study biblical foundations and important issues related to mission work. Women took initiatives to organize interdenominational structures that were effective and cooperative in home and foreign missions. In 1908, the women founded the Council of Women for Home Missions that assumed responsibility for the rehabilitation of immigrants and other social issues, and for the preparation of the joint day of prayer.
World Day of Prayer timeline
The National Missions Department for P.C.U.S.A.’s chairman’s wife, Mary Ellen Fairchild James, calls for a day of prayer for home missions, launching the very first Women's World Day of Prayer in the U.S.
The first Friday of Lent is established as a joint day of prayer for missions.
The worship service is shared with other countries and partners in the mission.
Kim of Korea is the first non-American to write the order of worship for the World Day of Prayer.
World Day of Prayer FAQs
How do we celebrate World Day of Prayer?
Host a pastor, Rabbi, or Imam to lead prayers in your home or community center. Create personalized handmade cards to invite your neighbors and their families, encouraging them to share prayer points.
What is prayer used for?
Studies often focus on the effect of prayer on healing the sick or disabled. However, most religious people believe it goes far beyond that to an infinite scope.
What is the first prayer in the Bible?
The first prayer recorded in the Hebrew and Christian Bible was made by Abraham in Genesis 18, to dissuade God from destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. His nephew Lot had moved there and started a family, so Abraham pleaded for their lives to be spared.
How to Observe World Day of Prayer
Join the prayer
Book prayer slots for anytime between 15 minutes to two hours. Virtual prayers are also a great way to celebrate World Day of Prayer if you are unable to attend in person.
Donate to the missions
Churches of various denominations accept donations on World Day of Prayer. Donate money, food, medicine, and clothes.
Observe the day with your church
Many churches organize special celebrations on World Day of Prayer. Participate in your own church’s activities for the day.
5 Facts About Volunteering
It makes you happy
96% of volunteers say that volunteering makes them happier with their lives.
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Volunteers contribute $200 million to Australia’s economy each year.
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Americans constitute most of the volunteers working worldwide.
It goes way back in history
Women volunteered to sew supplies for the soldiers during the American Civil War.
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Many work recruiters have revealed that having volunteer experience is an edge.
Why World Day of Prayer Day is Important
It affirms our faith
World Day of Prayer affirms our belief and faith in Christ and humanity. It’s a day to remind us that good things happen when people come together for a cause.
Encourages us to be of service
World Day of Prayer makes us aware of our goodness. It encourages us to serve humanity and help those in need.
It creates a sense of belonging
Praying together, especially on World Day of Prayer, makes us feel like we are a part of a community. It instills a sense of belonging.
World Day of Prayer dates