Courage to Heal: World Day of Prayer 2018

By Rev. Linda A. Martella-Whitsett
Courage to Heal: World Day of Prayer 2018

“Moving.” “Rich.” “Deep.” “Spectacular.”

These are among the glowing reports from participants of the 25th Annual World Day of Prayer held at Unity Village on September 13, 2018.

World Day of Prayer, held annually on the second Thursday in September, unites Unity and draws in New Thought partner communities for a 24-hour period of prayer practice.

Each year, World Day of Prayer centers around a particular theme and affirmation. This year’s theme was Courage to Heal, guided by the affirmation: I am a healing presence.

Opening Ceremony

World Day of Prayer 2018 began Wednesday evening with communal prayer, messages from New Thought leaders inspired by Courage to Heal, and supportive music.

Musicians Ash Alex, Jaime, and Jeff of Here II Here contributed their rhythmic blend of tribal pop, illuminated rock-satang, and soul-inspired R&B vocal harmonies that ooze heart-bursting lyrics promoting peace and conscious awareness.

Unity live-streamed the ceremony into homes and spiritual communities, inspiring an opening of hearts and minds in preparation for prayer vigil.

Candlelight Procession

Following the opening ceremony, everyone in the gathered community lit a candle and processed through Unity Village courtyard to the Bridge of Faith over the courtyard fountains.

In post-sunset darkness, candlelight led the way as Here II Here led chanting: “We are walking each other home.” Pausing in silence, a hush, a sigh, a wow. Each candle represented the courage to heal.

Vigil Opening

In silence, participants snuff out candles at the entrance to the Silent Unity building where prayer is continuous 24/7. Prayer associates respond to telephone calls and electronic prayer requests on the second floor of this building, while someone sits in silent prayer in the prayer vigil chapel on the third floor, under the cupola where the light is always shining.

In honor of World Day of Prayer, the perpetual light of prayer vigil moved to the Silent Unity Chapel, symbolized by a lantern carried from the third-floor chapel.

Baskets containing prayer lists from around the world lined the platform at the front of the chapel, ready to be blessed.

According to World Day of Prayer tradition, volunteers held lists while praying in silence, then blessing them, silently speaking the names, and returning the lists to the platform near a sign marked, “Blessed.”

For 24 hours, silent prayer and blessing in the Chapel was continuous.

World Day of Prayer Events

During the week at Unity Village, 11 a.m. allows a sacred pause for prayer.  On World Day of Prayer this year, Rev. Donna Johnson, CEO of Unity Worldwide Ministries, led an 11 o’clock service. Healing. Peace. Renewal.

That afternoon, Sacred Circle, a participatory prayer service, was held outdoors in the courtyard, led by Rev. Jenny Hahn and Sandy Eastwood. Celebration. Life. Glory.

Midafternoon, Here II Here inspired healing of consciousness with breathtaking musical message, “Being the Presence.” The heights and the depths, exquisite.

Vigil Closing

At the close of 24 hours of prayer, more than a quarter of a million names were blessed. The Silent Unity lantern returned to the Silent Unity Vigil Chapel as the gathered community recessed, holding the buckets of blessed prayer lists, where prayer continues as always, 24/7.


World Day of Prayer partners, local and virtual, continue the refrain: I am a healing presence as we heal ourselves, our families and communities, our earth, and our world.