Some of my clearest memories of childhood are around attending Church. Whenever a service was offered—Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Holy Communion—we were there. Of those memories, one that particularly stands out was attending the Woman’s World Day of Prayer with my mother. Celebrated on the first Friday in March, the service was out of the ordinary and felt special. It felt special because it was just for women and it felt special because I got to go with Mom. I come from a large family so it was unusual to have time on my own with my mother. No doubt, that helped foster the affection I had, and still have, for the World Day of Prayer, as it is now called.
Fast forward a number of years and the name was changed and the worship was no longer just for women. However, the service was still organized by women and featured women from various places around the world. I grew up in a Church where worship leadership was male dominated; I was in university when women were finally ordained in Canada. So a service written by women and featuring women’s leadership was important for me. I may not have been able to articulate it at the time but I am sure that was also part of what made it special.
And it continues to be special. Witness the following description from the World Day of Prayer website:
What is World Day of Prayer?
Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action. Imagine Christians from over 170 countries coming together in spirit, uniting on a common day to pray for relevant issues affecting women and children. This is a reality: the movement has been active for nearly 100 years. Each year, a different country writes the service materials. This year, the writing country is Taiwan: “I have heard about your faith” based on Ephesians 1:15-19.
But World Day of Prayer is about much more than coming together once a year to pray—as important as that is. Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be …” And that is the case here.
Offerings from the World Day of Prayer fund grassroots projects aimed at making life better for women. The list of 2021-2022 grants include recipients in Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, India, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Vanuatu. The projects they fund include shelter and therapy for victims of sex trafficking, programs for women suffering abuse, employment training, midwife training programs, training for women farmers and food security programs and more. In addition, there is an Awakening Grant, funded by sales of the limited edition prints of “Awakening,” a painting by Canadian artist David Alexander Risk, that supports Canadian projects to help Indigenous women in Canada, which in 2021-2022, supported a health and safety Program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
WDOP is about both prayer and prayer in action. Yup, that’s pretty special