Article of the week: Informed prayer, prayerful action
27 February 2021
Liz Hall introduces this year’s World Day of Prayer
ALTHOUGH preparations for the World Day of Prayer have been disrupted, it will still go ahead on Friday 5 March.
The World Day of Prayer is a women-led, international and inter-church organisation that champions the voices of women all around the world. Men and women of all ages can participate and much effort is put into preparing resources to support children and young people’s inclusion and encourage additional exploration of each year’s highlighted country.
The day is celebrated in more than 170 countries, beginning in Samoa and continuing through countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, before finishing in American Samoa some 39 hours later – a global wave of prayer.
IN FOCUS: VANUATU
This year’s service has been prepared by the women of the Republic of Vanuatu, located in the South Pacific Ocean, just off the northeast coast of Australia. It is a call to prayer for their country and an opportunity to explore the issues they face.
The pristine beauty and ecosystem of the archipelago serve its people well and Vanuatu is a great holiday location. However, the challenges from severe weather systems and natural disasters, including frequent tropical storms, cyclones and active volcanoes, are vast.
The country also deals with a number of challenging economic and political issues. Education is not free and not compulsory. Most families can still only afford to educate their first born, and boys get priority. Even though there have been challenges to this over the past 20 years, the literacy gap remains.
The health of women and girls is a priority for the government, but physical and sexual domestic violence affect more than half the female population. Malnutrition is also a growing problem, reflecting the global statistics on increasing food insecurity.
Through the service the challenge is given to ‘build on a strong foundation’ and live in unity, love and peace in the context of the ethnic and cultural diversity experienced in Vanuatu and around the world.
SALVATION ARMY ENGAGEMENT
The Salvation Army is represented on the three committees that separately serve the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland through the England, Northern Ireland and Wales (ENIW) Committee, the Scotland Committee and the Ireland Committee.
The Salvation Army is also active in local ecumenical branches. Some personnel take the role of branch secretary and corps sometimes provide the venue for the service.
Much of this year has been spent encouraging branch secretaries to adapt to new technology, and consideration has been given to different ways of engaging across the nations.
Some services will be postponed until later in the year, some will be presenting pre-recorded material via Zoom, while others are using YouTube and some will celebrate the event with friends over virtual coffee. There is information on the World Day of Prayer website regarding the services you can join, and hints and tips on hosting the service in a new way.
While much of the focus is on the service and the wave of prayer that emanates from it, the tagline ‘informed prayer, prayerful action’ encourages branches to keep researching the featured country and praying for it and the issues facing it.
Resources to support this prayerful action can be found on the website, where the magazine Together in Prayer can be purchased and a free prayer diary downloaded.
Donations given on ‘the day’ will help support the ongoing work of national committees and specifically the national committee of the nation in focus.
In 2019 more than £100,000 was granted through the ENIW Committee alone, supporting a range of services: summer camps for families in Albania, sanitary products to enable girls to attend school in Kenya, the Royal National Institute of Blind People and 28 Too Many, a charity raising awareness of and support for victims of female genital mutilation.
Online and phone donations are being encouraged this year. Any amount can be donated up to £40 by including the sum in a text message. For example, to donate £5 simply text 2021WDP 5 to 70085. Texts cost the amount donated plus the standard message rate.
- Further information can be found on the websites wwdp.org.uk, wdpscotland.org.uk and wwdpi.com
- If you are a branch secretary or involved in a local branch it would be great to know who and where you are, so please send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org
LIZ IS DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FAMILY MINISTRIES AND THE ARMY’S REPRESENTATIVE ON THE ENIW COMMITTEE