What is World Day of Prayer?

MEDIA RELEASE – World Day of Prayer 2024 

 World Day of Prayer is an international, ecumenical event that began almost a century ago bridging social, geographic, and political barriers. It has been an important ministry for women in Canada over the decades as they faithfully lead ecumenical services within their communities year after year.

In 1895, The Anglican Women’s Auxiliary of Canada began a day of “corporate intercessions for mission”. By 1916, the Dominion Board of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church of Canada was calling for a meeting for “united prayer for missions”.

On October 19, 1918, Bessie McMurchy invited representatives of five women’s missionary boards – Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian – to meet together to “promote the spread of Christ’s kingdom by united prayer, united action, and a stronger voice in national questions.”  Her letter led to the formation of the Inter-Board Committee of the Women’s Missionary Societies.

Imagine this small group of resilient women getting together near the end of WW1, and then …

1918-19  The Spanish Influenza epidemic puts the plans of the newly formed inter-board committee on hold.

1919 – On February 15, a planning meeting resulted in drafting an approval of a brief constitution.

1920 – On January 9, the first national interdenominational women’s day of prayer is held in Lindsay, Ontario.

1920 – On February 20, the first interdenominational day of prayer in the US is held

1922: On Friday, March 3, millions of church women in Canada and the United States celebrate a common day of prayer. The Canadian and US committees continue to prepare their own services but use the same theme.

1927: The World Day of Prayer for Missions is instituted.

 Preparation for the day is vast. The international committee is based in New York and there are national committees and organizations in 146 countries. In Canada, the World Day of Prayer (WDP) is coordinated by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC), one of the original founders of this prayer movement.

World Day of Prayer events/services have four parts:

  1. Prayer for the region of the writing committee
  2. Invitations for others to join your event
  3. An opportunity to donate
  4. Use of the WDP service provided by WICC – available in print, online and video formats

Offerings received through the World Day of Prayer transform our prayers into action in the form of project grants empowering women and children in Canada and throughout the world. Through WDP offerings, WICC has distributed almost 3 million dollars for small projects over the past 40 years. The vision is to restore hope to women and children touched by injustice. Grants must be approved by the WICC board which includes ten ecumenical partners.

The invitation is out to be part of World Day of Prayer 2024! The service is based on Ephesians 4: 1-3 – “I beg you … bear with one another in love” – and was written by Christian women of Palestine who primarily connected via the internet during the heights of COVID isolation.

World Day of Prayer is a special opportunity to prayerfully consider the ongoing anguish in the Middle East, and hear first-hand stories from the writing committee.

WDP in-person or Zoom services will take place in over 1000 Canadian communities on or near Friday, March 1, 2024. As well, individuals and families are welcome to watch an almost one-hour WDP service video prepared by WICC that features participants from across Canada.

For WDP 2024, we are encouraged to reflect on the history and challenges faced by the birthplace of Christianity as citizens struggle for security, peace and independence as well as on the efforts that women have made during changes in ruling influences over the last century.

Please help keep this opportunity for Christian connection intact as together we pursue justice, peace, and reconciliation by standing together in prayer and action.  Go to http://wicc.org/world-day-of-prayer/ to learn more about World Day of Prayer including how to coordinate a service and to watch the video service.


One comment on “What is World Day of Prayer?

  1. Joan Ghering Miller on


    I attended my first WICC in my community of Bowmanville, ON.

    I noted the solidarity and unity each member church presented.

    Yet was confused to note the videos being 2023 — was there a reason?

    I am hopeful to be active with my parish — perhaps with the FLC? Yet am curious to know if there would be future casual or PT positions open for the grant reviewers or other WICC projects.


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