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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Begins Worldwide Today

As Christian churches and communities across the world join in prayers today for the Christian Prayer Week for Christian Unity 2006, each day will have its own biblical reflections and prayers.
( [email protected] ) Jan 18, 2006 02:28 PM EST

As Christian churches and communities across the world join in prayers today for the Christian Prayer Week for Christian Unity 2006, each day will have its own biblical reflections and prayers.

Today, the theme will be "United Through the Presence of Christ," which will focus on "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" as the main verse found in Ephesians 4:5.

In a statement on the World Council of Churches (WCC) website, it explained what the theme meant, saying that the scriptures stress that "God's will is for the unity of God's people."

"The natural response to God's gift of unity is our gratitude and praise. The psalmist calls upon all the nations to unite in praise of God, whose saving power may be seen in all nations and throughout the whole earth," the statement said.

In focusing on the first part of the main verse, "One Lord," the statement added that Jesus made a promise to his followers that He would be with them, not only to His death but to the present with each follower who believes in Him -- "through the Holy Spirit."

The promise, however, is not limited to an individual believer but to the community of "one faith."

"...the promise of Jesus' presence is not limited to individual believers: for, as the evangelist Matthew affirms, wherever even two or three are gathered in Jesus' name they form a community, a community in which Jesus has promised to be present, strengthening and accompanying them on their way."

The statement continued on regarding baptism, saying as "we belong to Christ, we all belong to one another. That common belonging -- to Christ, and to one another -- makes us one, despite all our differences of history, culture, and theological conviction: 'for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,'" which is the theme for the entire week found in Matthew 18:20.

The Prayer Week officially began in 1964, during the Second Vatican Council with a call for prayer on the soul of the ecumenical movement. Meanwhile, the date goes back to 1740, when a Pentecostal movement in Scotland, with North American links, featured a revivalist message that included prayers with and for all churches.

The main sponsors of the Week of Prayer are the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. It is traditionally observed on January 18-25.

The prayer for the day is, "Lord Jesus, we thank you for your presence among us, strengthening and encouraging us on our way. Make us aware of your presence in us and responsive to your promptings in all that we do. Grant us the wisdom and humility to recognize your presence in our brothers and sisters. Make us truly one, O Lord. Amen."