What is the World Day of Prayer?

World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical movement of women of many faith traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday in March. Throughout the entire day, we collectively pray all over the world, beginning with the first sunrise and ending at the last sunset. Our prayers follow the sun’s path around the globe. WDP’s motto is “Informed prayer leads to prayerful action.” Through World Day of Prayer, women affirm that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world.

Coordinated services of Christian worship and prayer are held across the world in over 170 countries, directed by the international body – the World Day of Prayer International. The program for the service is prepared well in advance by women from one focus country of the
world. Each service has an advertised theme and involves Bible readings, prayers and songs and a reflection and is attended by women and men.

What are the goals of the World Day of Prayer movement?

The motto of the World Day of Prayer is “informed prayer and prayerful action”. The prayer day promotes informed prayer for the women of the focus country who write the service program. The WDP service presents their needs and concerns and their praise to God through the use of Bible passages and prayers and testimonies. The people around the world attending WDP services can then support them by participating in the service. Hopefully too the service will generate subsequent informed action in support of the women of the focus country. The Day of Prayer also encourages Christians of all traditions to join together and express community in prayer and praise to our God – locally and globally.

Why should I consider organising a WDP service/small group/meeting of friends?

  • You will meet people from local churches and the community. The experience of working together on a common service is active, participatory and inclusive.
  • You will show solidarity with the women in the focus country for the year.
  • You will pray with women from the focus country about their concerns through the medium of their service.
  • You will join with people from all around the world in prayer on the same day, expressing the same praise and making the same requests.
  • You will come before God as part of a world-wide group, where united prayer is going up around the world in the same 24 hour period.
  • You will be educated about the concerns of Christian women in other countries.

What are some of the different venues where the Day of Prayer has taken place?

  • In public gatherings in churches and halls
  • In school SRE (scripture) classes and chapel services
  • In nursing homes
  • In private homes between individuals– family members, friends, grandparents/grandchildren

How long does an average service go for if following the main service booklet?

About 1 hour.

What is the Statement of Faith of the World Day of Prayer?

They confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Constitution, WDP)

How did World Day of Prayer begin?

Since the 19th century, Christian women in the United States and Canada have initiated cooperative activities in many areas including concern for women and children, the role of prayer in mission work and women linking world peace with their involvement in mission work worldwide. The first organized day of prayer held nationally was in Canada on January 9, 1920. In Australia, in 1927, Queensland and New South Wales led the way to the introduction and establishing of Women’s World Day of Prayer in Australia. A National Committee was formed in 1968.

Why are the service booklets written from the point of view of women?

The World Day of Prayer has its roots in 19th Century women’s prayer groups for mission and later for women in general. After World War 1, this commitment to prayer for women across the world deepened. The movement has always acknowledged that women in many parts of the world have particular needs, and need the solidarity and prayers offered by women and men around the world. The Service program is therefore put together by women, so that others can join with them in prayer on the first Friday in March around the globe.

How are the countries and themes chosen?

Every 4-5 years, an international meeting is held. Each national committee is given the opportunity to submit a theme, along with suitable Bible passages, and may offer to write a service. During the meeting a small group considers the various suggestions for themes and the offers to write the service and chooses themes and countries for the next 4-5 years. A writing country does not choose its own theme; this is given to them by the International Executive Committee. The decision is then announced to the delegates at the International Meeting.

How do women around the world participate in World Day of Prayer?

Women around the world participate in several ways. Some women are a part of the 170-plus country committees of WDP. Each year, a different country serves as the writer of the World Day of Prayer worship service. The International Committee of WDP has representatives from every region of the world and they meet periodically to select future writer countries and WDP themes. Hundreds of thousands of women (and men, youth and children) from around the world and in every region gather to collectively worship on the first Friday in March.

Why did the name change from ‘Women’s World Day of Prayer’ to just ‘World Day of Prayer’?

In February 1986, Australia changed the name in line with many countries endeavouring to be more inclusively welcoming to the annual WDP service. In Australia, everyone is now welcome to join in the service – men and women. The service is still written from the point of view of women. The organising committees are still run by women.

What is the role of a World Day of Prayer State Committee?

Each State Committee prepares the relevant service materials for printing and distribution for their state. Each State Committee is responsible for promoting the WDP so that an increasing number of people in an ever expanding number of venues are included in the services from all the Christian denominations in a suburb, town or region. Each State Committee provides encouragement and new ideas and training for those people who are arranging a local WDP service.

Who is on the World Day of Prayer Committee in each state?

State Committees are made up of representatives from the following:

  • Anglican Church
  • Baptist Union
  • Christian Brethren
  • Churches of Christ
  • Congregational Church
  • Lutheran Church
  • Pentecostal Churches
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • The Salvation Army
  • Uniting Church in Australia
  • Australian Church Women
  • Indigenous representatives and others

Any Christian organisation representing women, which subscribes to the WDP statement of faith and is keen to promote the WDP service may be included. Elected positions on State Committees are President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. All positions are voluntary. State Committee meetings are held as required throughout the year.

How are Australia-wide decisions made?

Every 2 years the states of Australia are listed in a set order.
The next 2 years the next state appearing on the list selects the National Liaison Officer of WDP Australia.
She is the head of the Australian Working Committee for the next 4 years. That committee is elected by her State WDP Committee.
She connects with the International Committee of WDP and sets up a national working committee from her home state.

How are world-wide decisions made?

The international headquarters of WDP are in New York where there are two paid members of staff. They oversee the process of selection of the themes for services and of focus countries, and also the preparation and distribution of the service material. They bring together an Executive Committee which includes two representatives of each region of the world. They meet at least once every two years. Every 4-5 years they arrange a larger international gathering of representatives of all the countries involved.

How does the process of choosing the focus countries and the themes and the writing of the services work?

Every 4-5 years, an International WDP committee meeting is held. Delegates come together from over 170 countries. Any National Committee can submit a theme, with related Bible passages, for consideration. They can also offer to write a service and be the focus country. A Themes Group sifts through the suggestions, looking for common themes and passages. A list of themes with Bible passages is drawn up by this small group, for future services. These themes and passages are allocated to countries who offered to write services. The writing country does not choose its own theme. These focus countries are chosen to give as wide a regional representation as possible. Then a long process of consultation begins, in which drafts go back and forth to the International committee. The whole process is finished 18 months before the date of the service. Finally the Service is sent to each national committee, such as ours in Australia. We may edit the material for Australian conditions, whilst at all times maintaining the integrity of the original. It is then printed and distributed locally. The focus country usually suggests some music and songs, which we try to include, adding our own local music. In all, the service is translated world-wide into over 60 languages and 1000 dialects!

Has Australia ever written a WDP service?

Yes, twice.

  • 1958 – theme: ‘Bread of Life’
  • 1986 – theme: ‘Choose Life’

Who chooses the hymns?

The national committee of each country is asked to choose hymns that fit the theme of the service. Every effort is made to use one or two hymns submitted by the writing country. The committee chooses a mixture of old and newer hymns with something to suit varying tastes.

How is World Day of Prayer supported?

World Day of Prayer is supported by sacrificial and benevolent mission offerings given by individuals through annual services held in every country around the world. Each of the 170 countries celebrating World Day of Prayer has an organized country committee of ecumenical women representing many cultures, races and faith traditions.

How are offerings from the World Day of Prayer event used?

The World Day of Prayer Australia offerings are used to provide grants to various women and children’s programs. Each country’s committee is responsible for determining the use of the offering as it relates to the theme for each year.