Order of Service

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5 : 17)

L Worship Leader

R Readers

A All

Opening hymn and procession

The worship leaders and participants in the service can enter in procession during the singing of the hymn. It is suggested that one of them carry either an oil lamp or a lighted candle which will be placed in view of the congregation, for example on the altar/communion table bearing the Bible. Those present will already have received an unlit candle/taper on entering the church.

I. Welcome, invocation of the Holy Spirit and proclamation of the word of God

Word of welcome:

The worship leader or the pastor of the host congregation welcomes the assembly in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, then says:

L. Together let us call upon the Holy Spirit, light of our hearts, breath of life and power of the Father made manifest in the death and resurrection of Jesus. May he continue today his work of reconciliation and communion as it began with the preaching of the apostles. Do we not recognise this work of the Spirit in every step towards fuller communion in love, towards reconciliation and justice, in the ecumenical movement and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity over this last one hundred years?

One of the leaders briefly introduces the 2008 celebration, placing it within the framework of the centenary of the establishment by Paul Wattson, in 1908, of the prayer for unity octave, forerunner of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

L. We start our prayer by invoking the triune unity of our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let us welcome God into our hearts, as God welcomes us into his own through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

A. Amen

L. Let us pray to the Father to send us the gifts of his Holy Spirit: that our hearts may open to his presence, that he may be present in our prayers and lead us into his communion. The unity of the church is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can never succeed by our own means. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may descend upon each of us, that he may bless the church of God with his grace and unite us in Christ.

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Fill our hearts with grace!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Free us from doubt and mistrust!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Give us faith to go forward!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Transform our hearts of stone!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Bring God's justice to our world!

L. Come, Holy Spirit

A. Help us to understand that we are sisters and brothers!

L. Come, Holy Spirit !

A. Break down the walls between us!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Give us your gifts that we may share them!

L. Come, Holy Spirit !

A. Intercede for us, Spirit of the Father, whose profound sighs go further than our words!

L. Come, Holy Spirit!

A. Unite all Christians in Christ our Lord!

A hymn to the Holy Spirit is sung: e.g. 'Veni Creator Spiritus', 'Veni Sancte Spiritus'(Taizé), 'Come Holy Ghost', or the American spiritual, 'Come Holy Spirit'.

L. May there be a new and ongoing Pentecost. May our churches commit themselves once more to pray for the full unity of all Christians, and our prayers be added to a century of prayers “that all may be one”. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A. Amen

The word of God

R. Is 55: 6-9 Seek the Lord while he may be found

Psalm 34, sung or read responsively.

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord

R. 1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 Pray without ceasing

Sung Alleluia

R. John 17: 6-21 That all may be one




For gifts received within the ecumenical movement and through the faithfulness of Christians praying for unity in Christ. According to the context the congregation might evoke more explicitly the fruits of the ecumenical movement and the prayer for unity at a local or global level.

All. Truly our God is great,

Our hearts are filled with wonder!

L. We give thanks to you for Jesus your Servant whose name is called

Upon by the multitude among the 'nations';

R1. We give thanks to you for the Christ, your envoy,

he who gathers your scattered children;

R2. We give thanks to you for your Holy Spirit;

he is our communion and leads us into the unity of one faith;

R1. We give thanks to you for all who were pioneers in the search for

Christian unity, be they well known like Father Paul Wattson

and the Abbé Couturier or quite unknown -

faithful lay people, monks and nuns, all the servants of Christian unity

who have responded to your call.

R2. We give thanks for the abundant fruits of this

unceasing prayer for unity in Christ, rising up from all the continents.

R1. During one whole century you have heard this constant prayer which has brought forth so much fruit.

R2. May your Spirit encourage us to persevere in prayer and may we ever keep alive the memory of active faith of all the 'saints' – pioneers, theologians and those who have been faithful in prayer for the ecumenical movement, in their love of the gospel and of the church.

L. Now, O God our Father, from the depth of our memory and of our hearts we turn towards you and praise you with all those whom your Word has illumined and called, that your Holy Spirit might move us: those whom you desire to bring together in one baptism, one faith and one communion, in praise of your glorious name.

The opening line of praise could be inserted between each verse of thanksgiving.

Song expressing praise, thanksgiving, glorification of God. For example, the Trisagion, Gloria. Some psalms would be suitable accompanied by a brief introduction : Ps 33, Ps 34, Ps 36 (English, NRSV)

II. Prayers of intercession and symbolic gestures of unity


L. Let us pray to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, for the needs of our churches, our world and ourselves.

L. We pray without ceasing for the unity of all Christians.

A. Lord, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. We pray without ceasing for the leaders of our churches and faith communities, that they may persevere in the task of pursuing Christian unity.

A. Christ, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. We pray for all the baptized, that they may ever pray that “all may be one…so that the world may believe”.

A. Lord, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. For the churches and faith communities which risk further division and schisms, that their unity might be preserved.

A. Christ, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. For the councils of churches throughout the world at national and local level, and that the work which they accomplish together might be a witness to the gospel in the world.

A. Lord, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. For the ecumenical dialogues between and among our churches, communions and faith communities, so that whatever divides us might be overcome through wisdom, love and truth.

A. Christ, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. That all Christians might witness to the gospel, turning away from all that is destructive, to embrace justice, peace and solidarity. For the poor, the oppressed, victims of war and of violence. For the broken hearted and for those who are hated and maltreated.

A. Lord, have mercy on us and hear us!

L. We pray that the Lord may hear and respond to our constant prayers, through Christ our Lord.

A. Amen

The sign of peace

L. Peace be with you.

A. And also with you.

L. Having prayed to God for the forgiveness of our sins, and as we ourselves forgive each other, let us now exchange a sign of peace and seal our unity in prayer, in faith, love and in the hope of full communion.

Participants exchange a sign of peace. A hymn is sung while the participants afterwards return to their places.


III. Commitment to constant prayer and ecumenical action, blessing and prayer of dismissal

Lighting of candles

(Instrumental music during the lighting of the candles/tapers)

From the worship space, the candles or tapers of the people in the first row of the congregation are lit. From there the light will be spread all over the church. When all the candles are lit, all proclaim the confession of faith together. (The Nicene or Apostles' Creed could be used instead.)

Confession of faith in the Risen Christ, our unity and the light of our lives

A. May we joyfully give thanks to the Father who has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers of powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col 1 : 12-20)

Our Father

For the Lord's prayer, members of the congregation are invited to leave their places and to either come to the front of the church or into the worship space. If possible, one or more concentric circles can be formed. If this conforms to local custom, the participants could hold hands while praying.

L. Let us join our minds, hearts and voices with all Christians throughout the world, as we pray together in the words Jesus gave us:

A. Our Father

Ecumenical commitment

(lighted candle in hand)

A. Lord we have glorified you for the grace you have given us in the ecumenical movement. In the joy of being called to serve you in the one search for Christian unity, we acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit and the admirable diversity of gifts and talents of the Spirit destined to be shared. We commit ourselves to persevere in constant prayer for Christian unity, and through concrete gestures of reconciliation, to seek to bring forth perfect unity in your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


L. Let us leave this place glad to have worshiped together and been called to pray without ceasing while we wait for that great day when we shall all be perfectly united in Christ.

L. The Lord Jesus Christ be with you

A. And with your spirit

L. (The worship leaders can say these words together).

May the Lord bless you/us and keep you/us. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you/us and keep you/us. May the Lord be gracious unto you/us and give you/us his peace.

A. Amen

L. May the Lord bless us in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A. Amen

L. Let us go in peace, praying constantly and rejoicing in hope, while never ceasing to thank God

A. Let us give thanks to God

(Final procession, lit candle/taper in hand)

The leaders of the local churches, pastors, ministers, readers and other participants in the worship process out of the church with the lit candles. A hymn or song may be sung during this concluding/retiring procession, underlining the commitment of Christians in the mission of unity; for example, 'Lord you give the great commission' or 'The church's one foundation' or the spiritual 'There'll be peace in the valley' would be appropriate.

Significance of this symbolic act within the framework of the worship service:

Like a watchman awaiting the return of Christ, each member of the congregation holds the lit candle/taper, sign of his or her commitment to pray without ceasing for Christian unity, in hope and in the light of our paschal faith. This symbol underlines our desire to hasten the coming of the Lord (a major theme of the letters to the Thessalonians) and to pray and work for unity.

The symbolism of the light recalls the celebration of Easter: Christ, our Passover, present and working through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, is the light of the dawning of a new day for the world, a world henceforth called to renounce the shadows of sin, division and hatred. Is it not in the power of the Risen Christ, and at the prompting of the Spirit of the Father, light of our hearts and inspiration of our lives, that we are called to cooperate with other Christians in making visible the unity of the church of Christ?

Day 1

Pray always

Pray without ceasing
(1 Thess 5: 17)

Is 55:6-9 Seek the Lord while he may be found
Ps 34 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 Pray without ceasing
Lk 18:1-8 To pray always and not to lose heart

Paul writes “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. His epistle is written to a faithful community that is anxious about death. Many good and believing brothers and sisters have “fallen asleep” before the Lord's return to bring all into his resurrection. What will happen to these faithful dead? What will happen to the living? Paul assures them that the dead shall be raised with the living and exhorts them to “pray without ceasing”. What does it mean to pray without ceasing? We find insights to answer this question in today's readings. Our whole lives are to be a seeking of the Lord, convinced that in seeking, we shall find.

In the midst of the Exile, when all seemed hopeless and dry, the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near”. Even in exile, the Lord is near and urging his people to turn to him in prayer and to follow his commandments so that they may know his mercy and pardon. Psalm 34 affirms the prophetic conviction that the Lord will answer those who call upon him, and adds praise to the call to pray without ceasing.

In Luke's gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples with the parable of the widow seeking justice from a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. The story serves as a reminder of the need for constancy in prayer - “to pray always and not to lose heart” - and for confidence that prayer is answered: “will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?”

As Christians in search of unity, we reflect on these readings to find “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. It is Christ who lives within us. Our call to pray without ceasing becomes part of his eternal intercession to the Father: “that all may be one, ... that the world may believe...”. The unity we seek is unity 'as Christ wills' and the 'octave' observance of Christian prayer for unity reflects the biblical notion of completion, that some day our prayer will be answered.

Unity is a God-given gift to the church. It is also a call of Christians to live out this gift. Prayer for Christian unity is the source from which flows all human endeavour to manifest full visible unity. Many are the fruits of one hundred years of an octave of prayer for Christian unity. Many are also the barriers which still divide Christians and their churches. If we are not to lose heart, we must be steadfast in prayer so that we may seek the Lord and his will in all we do and all we are.


Lord of unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray without ceasing that we may be one, as you are one. Father, hear us as we seek you. Christ, draw us to the unity which is your will for us. Spirit, may we never lose heart. Amen.

Day 2

Pray always, trusting God alone

Give thanks in all circumstances
(1 Thess 5: 18)

1 Kings 18:20-40 The Lord indeed is God
Ps 23 The Lord is my shepherd
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 Give thanks in all circumstances
Jn 11:17-44 Father, I thank you for having heard me

Praying is rooted in the trust that God is powerful and faithful. God alone is the one who holds all in his hands, the present and the future. His word is credible and truthful.

The story of Elijah in 1 Kings impressively demonstrates the oneness of God. Elijah berates the apostates who worship Baal, who is not answering their prayers. Yet when Elijah prays to the one God of Israel, the response is immediate and miraculous. Realizing this, the people turned their hearts back to God.

Psalm 23 is a profound confession of trust. It depicts a person who believes that God guides him and stays with him also in the darkness of life and in situations of desolation and oppression.

We may find circumstances that may be difficult, even turbulent. We may have moments of despair and resignation. Sometimes we feel that God is hidden. But he is not absent. He will manifest his power to liberate in the midst of human struggle. Thus we give thanks to him in all circumstances.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is one of the most dramatic scenes recorded in John's gospel. It is a manifestation of Christ's power to break the bonds of death and an anticipation of the new creation. In the presence of the people Jesus prays aloud, thanking his Father for the mighty deeds he will do. God's saving work is accomplished through Christ so that all will come to believe.

The ecumenical pilgrimage is a way in which we realize the wondrous deeds of God. Christian communities which have been separated from each other come together. They discover their unity in Christ and come to understand that they are each part of one church and need one another.

The vision of unity can be darkened. It is sometimes threatened by frustrations and tensions. The question may arise whether we Christians are truly called to stay together. Our continuous praying sustains us as we look to God and trust in him. We are confident that he is still at work in us and will lead us to the light of his victory. His kingdom begins with our reconciliation and growing unity.


God of all creation, hear your children as we pray. Help us keep our faith and trust in you. Teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, relying on your mercy. Give us truth and wisdom, that your church may arise to new life in one fellowship. You alone are our hope. Amen.

Day 3

Pray without ceasing for the conversion of hearts

Admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted (1Thess 5 : 14)

Jon 3: 1-10 The repentance of Nineveh
Ps 51: 8-15 Create a pure heart in me
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 Encourage the faint-hearted
Mk 11: 15-17 A house of prayer

In the beginning and at the heart of the ecumenical enterprise can be found a pressing call to repentance and to conversion. We sometimes need to know how to call each other to task within our Christian communities as Paul invites us to do in the first epistle to the Thessalonians. If one or the other causes division, he should be rebuked; if some are afraid of all that a difficult reconciliation could imply, they should be encouraged.

Why hide the fact? If divisions between Christians exist, it is also through a lack of will to be committed to ecumenical dialogue and even, simply, to prayer for unity.

The Bible tells us how God sent Jonah to rebuke Nineveh and how the whole city repented. In the same way, Christian communities must listen to the Word of God and repent. In the course of the last century, we have not been lacking in prophets of unity who have made Christians aware of the unfaithfulness manifest in our divisions and reminding them of the urgency of reconciliation.

In the image of the vigorous intervention of Jesus in the temple, the call to Christian reconciliation can seriously call into question our narrow self-understanding. We too have a great need of purification. We need to know how to rid our hearts of all that prevents them from being a true house of prayer, concerned for the unity of all peoples.


Lord you desire truth deep-down within us: in the secret of our hearts, you teach us wisdom. Teach us to encourage each other along the road to unity. Show us the conversion necessary for reconciliation. Give to each of us a new, truly ecumenical heart, we pray you. Amen.

Day 4

Pray always for justice

See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek

to do good to one another and to all
(1 Thess 5: 15)

Ex 3: 1-12 God hears the cry of the Israelites
Ps 146 The Lord…secures justice for the oppressed
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 See that none of you repays evil for evil
Mt 5: 38-42 Offer no resistance to one who is evil

Together as God's people, we are called to pray for justice. God hears the cry of the oppressed, the needy, the orphan and the widow. God is a God of justice and answers with his Son, Jesus Christ, who commands us to work together in unity through peace and not through violence. Paul also emphasizes this in the words “see that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all”.

Christians pray without ceasing for justice, that every single human person will be treated with dignity and given a fair share in this world. In the United States of America, the injustice of the slavery of Africans ended only with a bloodletting civil war, followed by a century of state-sponsored racism. Even the churches were segregated according to colour. Sadly, racism and other forms of bigotry, such as fear of the alien, still linger in American life.

Yet it was through the efforts of the churches, particularly the African-American churches and their ecumenical partners, and most especially through the non-violent resistance of the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, that civil rights for all were enshrined in American law. His deep-rooted conviction that only Christ-like love truly conquers hate and brings about the transformation of society continues to inspire Christians, drawing them together to work for justice. Dr King's birthday is a national holiday in the USA. Each year, it falls either just before or within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

God heard and responded to the cries of the Israelites. God continues to hear and respond to the cries of all who are oppressed. Jesus reminds us that God's justice is embodied in his own willingness to sacrifice his own security, his own power and prestige and his very life to bring to our world the justice and reconciliation through which all human beings are treated as equal in worth and dignity.

It is only as we hear and respond to the cries of the oppressed that we can move forward together on the road to unity. This also applies to the ecumenical movement, where we may be required to “go the extra mile” in our willingness to listen to one another, reject vindictiveness and act in charity.


Lord God, you created humanity, male and female, in the divine image. May we pray without ceasing and with one mind and heart that those who are hungry in our world will be nourished, that those who are oppressed will be freed, that all human persons will be treated with dignity; and may we be your instruments in making this yearning a reality. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 5

Pray constantly with a patient heart

Be patient with all of them
(Thess 5: 14)

Ex 17: 1-4 Why?
Ps 1 Yield fruit in its season
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 Be patient with all of them
Lk 18: 9-14 A humble prayer

We cannot be complacent about the divisions between Christians and we are rightly impatient for the day of our reconciliation to come about. But we must also be conscious that ecumenical effort is not sustained at the same rhythm everywhere. Some go forward in leaps and bounds, others are more prudent. As Paul exhorts, we must be patient with everybody.

Like the Pharisee in prayer, we can easily come before God with the arrogance of those who do all things well: “I am not like other people”. If we are sometimes tempted to denounce the slowness or rashness of the members of our church or those of our ecumenical dialogue partners, the invitation to be patient sounds an important and timely warning.

Sometimes it is towards God that we show our impatience. Like the people in the desert, we sometimes question him : why do we have to continue this painful journey if it is all to no use? Let us stay confident. God responds to our prayers, in his own way and his own time. He will create new ways, to meet today's needs, of bringing Christians together.


Lord, make us your disciples, attentive to your Word, day and night. On our journey towards unity, give us hope for fruit in due season. When prejudices and suspicion seem to dominate, we pray you, give us the humble patience necessary for reconciliation. Amen.

Day 6

Pray always for grace to work with God

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5: 16)

2 Sam 7: 18-29 David's prayer of praise and rejoicing
Ps 86 Incline your ear, O Lord
1 Thess 5:(12a) 13b-18 Rejoice always
Lk 10: 1-24 The sending of the seventy-two

In prayer we are aligning our wills to the will of God and so participating in the fulfilment of his purpose. We need the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of believers, so that we have the grace to work with God and become part of his mission and his goal of unity. As we pray for this without ceasing we are aware that “more workers are needed for the harvest”. At many ecumenical gatherings, and particularly at the annual National Workshop on Christian Unity in the USA, it is recognized that if the ecumenical movement is to prosper today and in the next generation, more young people need to be drawn into it. We need more workers to experience the joy of praying to be part of the work of God.

The readings for Day 6 give us insight into what it means to work for the sake of the gospel.

David, amazed that he might be part of the plan to build a magnificent temple for the Lord, asks, “Can God indeed dwell on earth?” then concludes, “Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you”.

The psalmist prays, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever”.

In the sending of the seventy-two, Jesus confirms that through his disciples, and those who would come to believe in him through their word, his peace and the news that “the kingdom of God has come near to you” would be proclaimed to the world. At their joyful return, despite rejection, Jesus rejoices at their success in the submission of the evil spirits in his name: the message is never to cease, never to give up.

God's will is for his people to be one. Like the Christians in Thessalonika, we are urged to “rejoice always” and “pray without ceasing”, trusting that as we commit ourselves wholly to working with God, his purpose of unity will finally be fulfilled.


Lord God, in the perfect unity of your being, keep our hearts so burning with the desire and hope for unity that we will never stop working for the sake of your gospel. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 7

Pray for what we need

…help the weak
(1 Thess 5: 14)

1 Sam 1: 9-20 Hannah prays for a son
Ps 86 Listen to my cry of supplication
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 We urge you…to help the weak
Lk 11: 5-13 Ask and it will be given you

Unable to bear a child and in great distress, Hannah prayed to God for a son and in due time, her prayers were answered and Samuel (which means I have asked him of the Lord) was born. In Luke's gospel, we read that Jesus himself tells us to “ask and it shall be given” and in our need, we turn to God in prayer. The response may not be what we expect but God always responds.

The power of prayer is immense, especially when linked to service. From the gospels, we know that Christ wants us to love and serve one another. In Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, the theme of service is taken up in the imperative: “help the weak”. We do not find it impossible to respond ecumenically in a practical way to people's weakness or distress; churches of different traditions often work hand in hand. But their witness in some situations is seriously weakened by their division, and when we want to pray together, we are sometimes deeply suspicious of the different prayer forms we encounter in Christian traditions other than our own: Roman Catholic prayers which are addressed to God through the saints or Mary the mother of Jesus; Orthodox liturgical prayers; Pentecostal prayers; the spontaneous, Protestant prayers which address God in direct, everyday language.

There are signs however of a new consideration of different forms of prayer. Within American churches, the experience of Pentecostal renewal has also led to a greater appreciation of the power of prayer and Pentecostals have begun to feel more comfortable in the ecumenical movement. Discussions with the Orthodox churches in the World Council of Churches have led to greater appreciation of each other's prayer forms.

Without doubt, confidence in the power of prayer is common to all our traditions and has rich potential to further the cause of Christian unity – once we can understand and overcome our differences. We should give prayerful support to the dialogues which seek to address those differences among our churches and which prevent us from coming together at the Lord's table. Praying together that prayer of remembrance and thanksgiving would allow a great stride to be taken along the road to unity.


Help us, Lord, to be truly one in praying for the healing of our world, for the mending of divisions in our churches, and of ourselves. May we not doubt that you hear and will answer us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Day 8

Pray always that they all may be one

Be at peace
(I Thess 5:13b)

Is 11: 6-13 The wolf shall live with the lamb
Ps 122 Peace be within your walls
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 Be at peace among yourselves
Jn 17: 6-24 That they all may be one

God's desire for human beings is that we live in peace with one another. This peace is not only an absence of war or conflict; the shalom desired by God is that which arises from a reconciled humanity, a human family which participates in and embodies the peace which God alone can give. Isaiah's image of the wolf living with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the kid, offers an imaginative glimpse of the future God desires for us. While this shalom is not something that we can create on our own, we are called to be instruments of the Lord's peace, artisans of God's reconciling work. Peace, like unity, is a gift and a calling.

Jesus' plea for the unity of his disciples did not take the form of a commandment or a request. It took the form of a prayer, words lifted up before the Father on the night before Jesus was put to death. It is a prayer which rises from the depths of his heart and of his mission, as he prepares his disciples for all that is to come: Father, may they all be one.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the Octave/Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrating it within the context of the yearnings, prayers and initiatives for the unity of Christians through the centuries, we do well to take stock of where we are on this Spirit-led journey. It is a time to give thanks for the many fruits of prayer for unity. In many places, animosity and misunderstanding have given way to respect and friendship between Christians and Christian communities. Christians who have gathered together to pray for unity have often joined together in acts of common witness to the gospel, and worked side by side in serving those in great need. Dialogue has assisted in building bridges of understanding, and has led to the resolution of some of the doctrinal differences which have separated us.

Yet it is also a time to repent, for in our divisions we continue to stand under the judgement of Jesus' prayer for unity and Paul's imperative that we be at peace among ourselves. In the present day, Christians are publicly divided on many issues: in addition to our ongoing doctrinal differences, we are often at odds with each other on moral and ethical questions, on matters of war and peace, on current issues where common witness is called for. Internally divided and in conflict with each other, we fall short of the lofty calling to be signs and instruments of the unity and peace willed by God.

What then shall we say? There is reason to rejoice, and cause for sorrow. It is a moment to give thanks for those of past generations who have spent themselves generously at the service of reconciliation, and a time to recommit ourselves to be artisans of the unity and peace which Christ desires. And it is a time to ponder again what it means to pray always, through our words and deeds, through the lives of our churches.


Lord, make us one: one in our words, that a single reverent prayer might rise before you; one in our yearning and pursuit of justice; one in love, serving you by serving the least of our sisters and brothers; one in longing for your face. Lord, make us one in you. Amen

Additional Resources

(These prayers and other resources are offered by the group which prepared the source material and are published under their entire responsibility.)


Lord, take me where You want me to go;

Let me meet who You want me to meet;

Tell me what You want me to say, and

Keep me out of Your way.

(Father Mychal Judge, OFM, September 11, 2001)

“After the call, (Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr) got up from bed and made himself some coffee. He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: 'Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone.'

Later he told me, 'At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.' When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.” (Coretta Scott King, Standing in the Need of Prayer)

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

(Reinhold Niebuhr)

H.M. Queen Liliuokalani of Hawai'i, during imprisonment, 1893

O! kou aloha no, Lord, thy loving mercy
Aiakia lani, Is high in the heavens,
Ao kou oiaia It tells us of thy truth,
He hemolele hoi. And 'tis filled with holiness.
Kou noho mihi ana Whilst humbly meditating
A paahao ia Within these walls imprisoned
Ooe kuu lama Thou art my light, my haven
Kou nani kou koo. Thy glory my support.
Mai nana ino ino Oh! Look not on their failings
Na hewa o kanaka Nor on the sins of men
Aka e huikala Forgive with loving kindness
A maemae no. That we may be made pure.
No laila e ka Haku For thy grace I beseech thee
Malalao kou eheu Bring us 'neath thy protection
Ko makou maluhia And peace will be our portion
A mau loa aku no. Amene. Now and forever more. Amen.
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;

So I will know my people's plight,

Free me to pray for others;

For you are present in every person.

Help me to take responsibility for my own life;

So that I can be free at last.

Give me honesty and patience:

So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;

So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;

So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;

For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;

So we can change the world. (Cesar Chavez)


American standard hymns:

In Christ There is No East or West

William A Dunkerley, Music by Harry T. Burleigh

Amazing Grace

John Newton, Virginia melody

Simple Gifts

Joseph Brackett, Jr., A Shaker hymn

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!

Fanny Jane Crosby, Music by Phoebe Palmer Knapp

Gospel Music: There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

Doris Akers

From the Pentecostal tradition: Spirit of the Living God

Daniel Iverson

Charismatic chorus: He is Lord

Civil Rights: Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson, music by J. Rosamond Johnson


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