Women's World Day of Prayer
World Day of Prayer symbol

During the 19th century Christian women of the United States and Canada initiated a variety of cooperative activities in support of women’s involvement in mission activities at home and abroad. In spite of resistance from all-male mission boards, from 1861 onwards women were responsible for several projects aimed specifically towards the well-being of women and children.

For many years women from different denominations encouraged one another to engage in days—and occasionally weeks—of communal prayer, and in 1897 a committee was formed to establish a united day of prayer in support of home missions; in 1912 this was joined by a day of prayer in support of missions overseas. The women in all these groups had a vision of Christian unity that was seen as essential to their exercise of mission, a belief that gained momentum following the devastation of the first world war.

In Canada, representatives of women’s missionary societies from five denominations formed a committee—now the Women’s Inter-Church Council—which organized the first national Day of Prayer, observed on 9 January 1920; in the United States, a similar event was organised for the first Friday of Lent. By 1922 the Canadians were also holding their observance on this date, and by the beginning of 1927 a call was issued for a World Day of Prayer.

Now observed on the first Friday in March, World Day of Prayer has grown into a global movement of Christian women from many traditions. Each year there is a different theme, and it is hoped that by participating individuals will:

become part of a greater world 
be enriched by the faith experience of Christians of other countries and cultures
take up the burdens of the needy, praying with and for them
become aware of their talents and use them in the service of society