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Program for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2004

1/16/2004 - 8:00 AM PST

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Program for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2004

18-25 January 2004



WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2004


My peace I give to you (Jn 14: 23-31)


To those organizing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Adapting the text




This material is offered with the understanding that, whenever possible, it will be adapted for use at the local level. In doing this, account must be taken of local liturgical and devotional practice, and of the whole social and cultural context. Such adaptation should normally take place ecumenically.

In some places ecumenical structures are already set up for adapting the material. In other places, we hope that the need to adapt it will be a stimulus to creating such structures.

Using the Week of Prayer material

For churches and Christian communities which observe the week of prayer together through a single common service, an order for an ecumenical worship service is provided.

Churches and Christian communities may also incorporate material from the week of prayer into their own services. Prayers from the ecumenical worship service, the "eight days", and the selection of additional prayers can be used as appropriate in their own setting.

Communities which observe the week of prayer in their worship for each day during the week may draw material for these services from the "eight days".

Those wishing to do Bible studies on the week of prayer theme can use as a basis the biblical texts and reflections given in the "eight days". Each day the discussions can lead to a closing period of intercessory prayer.

Those who wish to pray privately may find the material helpful for focusing their prayer intentions. They can be mindful that they are in communion with others praying all around the world for the greater visible unity of Christís church.

The search for unity: throughout the year

The traditional date for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Watson to cover the days between the feast of St Peter and the feast of St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic meaning. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (which was suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the church.

But the search for Christian unity is not limited to one week each year. We encourage you therefore not only to be flexible concerning the date but also to understand the material presented here as an invitation to find opportunities throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already received, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christís will.

Biblical Text for 2004

My peace I give to you (Jn 14: 23-31)

Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

You heard me say to you, ĎI am going away, and I am coming to you.í If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way."

(New Revised Standard Version)

Theological and Pastoral Introduction

My peace I give to you (Jn 14: 23-31)

We seldom pray for that which does not involve us; and we pray most fervently for that which concerns us deeply, that which touches upon the people and the world we know. And yet prayer also expands the human heart. Saint Isaac the Syrian speaks of the merciful heart as one which burns with great compassion for all people, for every created thing. Gripped by a "strong and vehement mercy", a compassion "without measure in the likeness of God", such a heart offers up prayer ...

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