The origins of the Women’s World Day of Prayer date back to the 19th century when Christian women in the USA and Canada initiated a variety of cooperative activities in support of women’s involvement in mission, at home and abroad. It is from such roots that a worldwide ecumenical movement of Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action has evolved.
It was in 1928, at an international missionary conference in Jerusalem, that Scotswoman, Grace Forgan, first learned of the world day of prayer and brought the news to the UK and the first World Day of Prayer service was held in Scotland, in a house in Edinburgh. In Northern Ireland, England and Wales there are now over 5,000 services every year. Last year 275,000 copies of the order of service were printed.
It was back in 2012 that Zimbabwe was invited to prepare the 2020 World Day of Prayer. At that time, the country was facing many challenges. It has gone through many changes, notably the ousting of Robert Mugabe, but the new dawn that so many had hoped and prayed for has not happened. In fact, life for ordinary Zimbabweans is harder than ever so please continue to pray for them. The continuing power cuts and the rising cost of electricity has led people to a constant updating and expansion of solar systems. There are boreholes but the water is often deep below ground level. The shortage of water to households is so bad, they are installing solar pumps so that with the water they can grow their own vegetables. With the sporadic rain the crops have generally all but failed and hunger is stalking the streets.
People have lost so much weight they are in no physical state to work. Many need medical care for various ailments. The theme this year is: John 5:2-9a: Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk, based on Jesus’ encounter with a man who, although positioned for healing, had not acted upon the opportunities given. Jesus asked, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ You too are faced with this life-changing question. What are you going to do? ‘Rise! Take your mat and walk,’ said Jesus. The women in Zimbabwe have taken Jesus’ encounter to be a call to act in love for peace and reconciliation. We should not be afraid to act on the word of God. God is offering us the steps for personal and social transformation. We are empowered to take up our mats – not wait powerlessly on the mat. This is the time for change!