As an employee at Unity, I find sometimes that World Day of Prayer can be a little like the holidays; if I am not careful, I get so caught up in the frenzy and whirl of preparing for it that I miss the moment. I can actually miss the joy.
Though I have participated in World Day of Prayer for the last four years, this year was the first time I attended the opening ceremony. And I wasn't there because I was expected to be as an employee or because I thought it was important to make an appearance. I went because I wanted to feel it: the prayer consciousness that draws visitors here from around the world.
The Activities Center wasn't packed when I arrived, which surprised me. I guess I expected rock-concert crowding; being a part of Unity at Unity Village, I was harboring a kind of “center of the universe” mentality, not realizing yet how many prayers were being said across the cosmos. But more and more people arrived as the ceremony began, and you could see the light shining in new arrivals' eyes—a radiance that bespoke the joy in making it to this place, to be a part of a world consciousness of prayer, at the home of the “the light that shines for you.”
It was like a holiday service, with soulful music and glowing candles and a hushed audience. More important, it was serene. And people who spoke one language sat next to people who spoke another, and it did not matter; all were there for one reason, one purpose—prayer, a language universally understood.
Coco Ramos played mood-setting piano music, while vocalists lifted us in prayer through song. And after candle lighters came on stage to say prayers blessing each continent, Rev. Paulette Pipe vigorously affirmed the light in each one of us, as a flame was passed from candle to candle, bringing a glow to the room.
Prayer requests come in daily by phone, letter and e-mail. Millions of names come in on lists for World Day of Prayer. And this year names submitted online could be seen on a big screen in the Silent Unity Chapel for a roomful of people to pray over. So why does it matter to so many to be here, to be physically present? Because we are all one and to feel that bond, that unity, reaches us in a way words on paper and screen cannot do.
At Unity, we talk about being “prayed up.” And for 24 hours, during World Day of Prayer, the world is indeed prayed up. Imagine if that consciousness took hold for seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Just imagine.