About World Day of Prayer
The origins of World Day of Prayer date back to the 19th century when Christian women of United States and Canada initiated a variety of cooperative activities in support of women’s involvement in mission at home and in other parts of the world. They encouraged one another to engage in personal prayer and to take leadership in communal prayer in their missionary associations. This emphasis on prayer gradually led to annual days and weeks of prayer across the country.
In 1927, women in the USA and Canada extended the invitation to their partners overseas to join in prayer. By 1930, this invitation had been accepted in at least 33 countries. The International Committee was formed in 1968. One of its first decisions was to agree a regular date for the annual World Day of Prayer. The first Friday in March each year was agreed as this date retaining a close proximity to Lent and the connection with prayer, self-denial and sacrifice.
On this day, women gather to pray with women from a different country. A theme developed by the WDP Committee inspires informed prayer and prayerful action.
WDP in Ireland
World Day of Prayer was introduced to Ireland by two former missionaries to Manchuria, Caroline Lyle and Rosa Hudson. The first Irish World Day of Prayer services were held in Dublin, Dun Laoghaire and Greystones in 1934.
Ireland was part of the writing group for the 1945 service on the theme of “That Ye Should Show Forth The Praises Of Him Who Hath Called You Out Of Darkness Into His Marvellous Light.”
In 1964, the National Committee of the Republic of Ireland was recognised by the International Committee, two years after it had started editing its own services.
In 1973, twenty members of the Catholic Women’s Federation attended a service in Dublin. Following that, two Catholic women joined the National Committee.
Ireland wrote the 1982 service. Women from all over the island of Ireland prepared the theme “The People of God – Gathered for Worship, Scattered for Service.” The international symbol was developed by the women of Ireland in that year: its design is made up of arrows converging from the four points of the compass, persons kneeling in prayer, the Celtic cross and the circle, representing the world and unity through diversity.
From 1982 to 1990, Mary Breslin from Dublin served on the WDP International Executive Committee.
Ireland’s Silver Jubilee Celebration was held in the National Concert Hall in 1984. Three years later, the Worldwide Centenary was celebrated in the same venue.
In 1982, the first radio broadcast of the service took place from Abbey Presbyterian Church in Dublin.
Since 2000, the service has been televised from the RTE studios on a Sunday in February.