Origin of this Holiday
The World Day of Prayer is an international ecumenical Christian laywomen’s initiative. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action,” and is celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March. The movement aims to bring together women of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer, as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.
The World Day of Prayer started in the USA in 1884.
When Mary Ellen James called for a day of prayer in 1887, she was not planning a great worldwide movement, destined to become the largest ecumenical movement in the world organised and led by women. She was simply reacting, as a Christian, to the society in which she lived. The wife of a Presbyterian minister in New York and the mother of seven children, Mary Ellen was aware of the problems faced by many women around her, particularly new immigrants to America - the awful slums with their poverty, unemployment, poor housing, lack of health or educational facilities. Something had to be done. 
Two years later, two Baptists called together a Day of Prayer for the World Mission. The Day of Prayer initiated by these two women expanded to neighboring countries, then on to Europe and other continents.
Since 1927 the day is known as Women’s World Day of Prayer.
Through the World Day of Prayer, women are encouraged to become aware of the other countries and cultures and no longer live in isolation. They are also encouraged take up the burdens of other people, to sympathize with the problems of other countries and cultures and pray with and for them. They are further encouraged to become aware of their talents and use them in the service of society. The World Day of Prayer aims to demonstrate that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world.
Every year, worship service focuses on a different country and a specific theme. World Day of Prayer National/Regional Committees of that country prepare the order of worship on these themes to be used on the next World Day of Prayer.
On the first Friday of March, then, in services all over the world that country becomes the focus of prayer and understanding. Through preparation and participation in the worship service, women worldwide learn how their sisters of other countries, languages and cultures understand the biblical passages in their context. They learn of the concerns and needs of those women and to empathize and feel in solidarity with them.
Forthcoming World Day of Prayer themes and writer countries
- 2008 God’s Wisdom Provides New Understanding; Guyana
- 2009 In Christ, There Are Many Members, Yet One Body; Papua New Guinea
- 2010 Let Everything That Has Breath Praise God; Cameroon
- 2011 How Many Loaves Have You?; Chile
- 2012 Let Justice Prevail; Malaysia
- 2013 I was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me; France
- 2014 Streams in the Desert; Egypt
- 2015 Jesus Said to Them: Do You Know What I Have Done to you?; The Bahamas