The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022
January 18th to 25th
Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.
John’s Gospel 15:5-9
Tuesday, January 18th
One of the greatest obstacles to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the division between Christians. History has left us with various Christian communities, very often burdened with issues that belong to another time. For over a hundred years the historical Christian denominations and churches have set aside a week every year, called a “Week of Prayer For Christian Unity” to help resolve this discord.
In the northern hemisphere, this week runs from January 18th to 25th ending with the feast of St Paul. The date differs in other areas. The official purpose is “to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for the full unity which is Christ’s will”. Every year the resource material for this week is prepared by an ecumenical group from different geographical areas. It usually reflects the particular experience of the Christian life in that location. It is worthwhile to remember that this particular initiative concerns Christians only.
This year the material for prayer has been prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut. Their proposed theme is We saw the star in the east and we have come to worship Him. This is a well-known line from the Christmas story, Chapter 2, Verse 2, of Matthew’s Gospel. The first twelve verses of that same chapter form the basis for the week’s prayer.
Our duty and calling as Christians today is to be like that star – to lead peoples of all nations, with their particular unique gifts to come to Jesus and go away as His followers. However, our divisions dim that star, it is not a clear guide to the ‘Magi’ of today. The star still shines over that manger – this week of prayer will hopefully lessen one obstacle that prevents it from being clearly seen by ‘all people of good will’.
There are reflections and prayers for each day. For the complete text for the week go to the Resources section of www.oikoumene.org
DAY 1: We observed his star in the East. (Mt 2:2)
Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
Lord God, illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves before us and leads us. Enlighten us and dwell within us. Guide us to discover a small manger in our hearts where a great light still sleeps. Creator of light, we thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage. Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him. Amen.
Wednesday, January 19th, DAY 2: Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? (Mt 2:2)
Humble leadership breaks down walls and builds up with love.
God, our only refuge and strength, we glorify you for you are a just and righteous God. We confess before you that we often covet worldly models of leadership. Help us to seek our Lord Jesus Christ not in the palaces of the powerful but in the humble manger and to emulate him in his meekness. Encourage us to empty ourselves as we serve each other in obedience to you.
We pray in the name of Christ who with you and with the Holy Spirit reigns forever in glory. Amen.
Thursday, January 20th, DAY 3: When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. (Mt 2:3)
The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down.
O Lord, you have guided us out of darkness to Jesus. You have illumined the star of hope in our lives. Help us to be united in our commitment to bring about your Reign of love, justice and peace and so to be the light of hope to all those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment. Take our hand, Lord, so we can see you in our daily lives. As we follow you, remove our fear and anxiety. Shine your light upon us and set our hearts on fire so that your love surrounds us with warmth. Lift us up to you, you who have emptied yourself for our sake, so that our lives may glorify you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Friday, January 21st, DAY 4: And you, Bethlehem… are by no means least. (Mt 2:6)
Though small and suffering, we lack nothing.
Good Shepherd, the fragmentation of the little flock grieves your Holy Spirit. Forgive our weak efforts and slowness in the pursuit of your will. Give us wise shepherds after your own heart who recognise the sin of division, and who will lead the churches with righteousness and holiness, to unity in you. We ask you, Lord, to hear our prayer. Amen.
Saturday, January 22nd, DAY 5: Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising.
Guided by the one Lord.
O Lord God our Father, you sent the star to lead the Magi to your only begotten Son. Increase our hope in you and let us know at all times that you are walking with us, watching over your people. Teach us to follow the guidance of your Holy Spirit, however strange the path may seem, so that we may be led to our unity in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Open our eyes to your Spirit, and encourage us in our faith, so that we may confess that Jesus is Lord, and worship and rejoice in him as the Magi did in Bethlehem.
We ask you these blessings in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sunday, January 23rd, DAY 6: They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. (Mt 2:11)
Gathered in worship around the One Lord.
Compassionate God, you gave the blind the insight to recognise you as their Saviour, enable us to repent. In your mercy, remove the scales from our eyes and lead us to worship you as our God and Redeemer. In the midst of our sorrow and despite the depth of our sins, give us the capacity to love you with all our hearts. May we journey together guided by your light, with one heart and one mind, as were the very first disciples. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us, so that together we glorify you in the Spirit’s fellowship, and witness to all those around us. Amen.
Monday, January 24th, DAY 7: Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Mt 2:11)
The gifts of communion.
All praise, glory and thanksgiving to you, O God. You have revealed yourself in the epiphany of your Son both to those who have long awaited your coming, and to those who were not expecting you. You know the suffering that surrounds us, the pain caused by our divisions. You see the world struggling and the deteriorating situation in the Middle East today – the place where you chose to be born, which was sanctified by your presence. We ask you to enable our hearts and our minds to know you. As we join the wise men coming from afar, we pray that you open our hearts to your love and to the love of our brothers and sisters around us. Give us the will and the means to work towards the transformation of this world and to offer each other gifts that may nurture our communion. Grant us your endless gifts and blessings. Receive our prayer in the name of your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Tuesday, January 25th, DAY 8: They left for their own country by another road. (Mt 2:12)
Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths.
Gracious God, when we only know one way and we think we must return to it, and when we think that all roads are blocked, and we fall into despair, we always find you there. You are the God of renewed promises. We find you creating a new path before us, one that we did not expect. We thank you because you exceed our expectations. We thank you for your wisdom that surpasses our understanding. We thank you because your creative paths open up unforeseen possibilities. If we search our maps and find no route, nonetheless we always find you, who lead us by a yet more excellent way. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that you will always lead us back to you. Amen.