How does World Day of Prayer tell the story of united prayers led by women around the world? For almost 100 years, women have been inviting the communities to listen to each other and to create common responses to help the ones in need.
The themes that motivate the prayers since 1927 up to 2026 are a testimony of how women commit to putting their hope into action. From the 1927 service entitled “Pray Ye Therefore”, written by Mary Hough, USA, to the 2020 service written by women in Zimbabwe under “Rise! Take your Mat and Walk”, we underscore our way of being active listeners to foster ecumenical solidarity.
The faces of the communities in prayer around the world are displayed on the WDP Timeline poster, released in 2018. They represent the prayers that come from Samoa, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Uruguay, Hungary, Taiwan and Bahamas (from top left to bottom right). Let’s learn the stories behind the faces!
In 2015, the worship service program written by the women of WDP Bahamas was held at the Methodist Church of Samoa. The photo shows a very inspirational moment from that service. Pictured are pastor’s wives, Punipuao Amosa (in white) and Sina Anoai (in red), reenacting Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. The colors of their outfit represent Jesus (white) washing away the sins of the disciples (red).
The service theme was “Jesus said to them: Do you Know What I Have Done to You?” Jesus set a better example to the disciples and every day the women of Samoa try to live by that example with humble hearts. By washing the feet of their sisters they affirm that anyone can serve others. The pastor’s wives were selected to do the liturgical gesture because they are leaders of the Church women’s fellowship in the villages. As leaders, women are servants of Jesus for the poor, the sick, and the sinners.
The 2017 WDP worship service program was written by the women of Philippines under the theme “Am I being Unfair to You?” WDP Zimbabwe started in 1962, at the United Methodist Church in Mbare, one of the oldest townships in Zimbabwe. The WDP service held at the church in Mbare was hosted by Mbare mubatanidzwa (Church Women United). Represented in the photo are women and young women from the United Methodist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Methodist Church of Zimbabwe, African Episcopal Church, Anglican Church and the Salvation Army. Together they hold the offerings for the altar.
Since 2003, the Sunday schools of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in Beirut, Lebanon, have come together to celebrate World Day of Prayer through the children’s program. Every year, around 150 children eagerly wait to participate through the WDP worship service in prayer and fellowship. The children learn about the focus country in creative ways and are given the opportunity to pray for their people. They worship God by singing hymns of praise, learn a Bible lesson, and have fun with arts and crafts. As shown in the poster, a young Lebanese Armenian girl is reading a prayer for the people of the Philippines.
“All God’s Creation is Very Good!” was the theme for the 2018 WDP worship service written by women in Suriname. Cindy de los Santos attended the service held at the German Church in Montevideo, Uruguay. She is originally from Artigas and came to Montevideo to finish school, and is a member of the Salvation Army.
During the service, Cindy and six others participated in the leadership of the service. They presented the testimonies of women from Suriname to reflect on how those stories related to women in Uruguay. It was a blessed celebration where people from different churches were united for the same purpose, which was to pray together for Suriname and the world. It was moment of joy and also to affirm that as stewards of God’s creation, we have the responsibility to protect it.
The chapel of the Mary Mandak Lutheran Church in Joseph Town, Budapest, Hungary, was rearranged for children to sit and play in the center while the families and others sat around them for the celebration prepared by WDP Cuba under the theme “Receive children. Receive me.”
Rev. Márta Bolba, the pastor of the church, also serves the homeless, refugees, Roma, psychiatric patients, poor and elderly of the community. World Day of Prayer, as a movement that draws attention to real social problems, invites participants to act in faith. The celebration then becomes a very special melting pot of people from different social classes.
Following the WDP program, a new initiative was launched at the House of Mandak – a dinner together once a week. The bread community is an ancient religious tradition. Rev. Márta says, "Sitting at a table together is much more Christian than serving food."
The culture diversity of Taiwan also reflects the presence of the immigrant women from the Philippines. The WDP celebration created the opportunity for the Filipino women living in Taiwan to participate in the 2017 service written by women in the Philippines.
They came and through vibrant dance brought an energetic and festive atmosphere to the WDP service. As in the theme, “Am I Being Unfair to You?” we need to understand the suffering, challenges and needs of the Philippines, and take action. WDP is a day when we pray for justice, and learn to care and love our neighbor as ourselves.
The 2016 WDP worship service, written by the women of Cuba, brought children to the center of the prayers “Receive Children, Receive Me”. It is very meaningful to affirm children’s prayer. The children in the photo are primary school students, from the Charles W. Saunders Baptist School in Nassau, Bahamas. The students attentively followed along as other students led the prayers in Spanish. Several teachers at the school are Cuban natives, who were very pleased to share about Cuba and their culture. They led the children’s service and taught the children prayers and songs in Spanish. It was a heartwarming experience for all.
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