From time to time, I wonder what Frank B. Whitney would think of Daily Word® if he were alive to read it today. One hundred years ago, Whitney, Daily Word’s creator and founding editor, launched the publication intended to be a “manual of daily studies” for Unity students and all others eager to learn and practice the principles of spiritual Truth.
To that end, Whitney, a longtime Unity employee, explained in the foreword of the July 1924 inaugural issue that, “The teachings will be as absolute as is consistent in making Truth clear to minds of various degrees of spiritual unfoldment. The power of the Word will be taught day by day.”
A century later, in a world that has changed in countless ways, this daily devotional from Unity remains true to that goal, even while evolving to reflect a deepening understanding of metaphysics and stretching linguistically to meet the needs of a modern readership.
A Worldwide Presence
I doubt Whitney and his contemporaries dared dream of the impact this slim devotional would achieve over the years. Daily Word is now translated into four languages and is read in more than 100 countries. An international publication with a subscriber base of approximately 400,000, Daily Word is a light and a hope, a beacon of singular Truth shining in an increasingly complex world.
Given Daily Word’s reach and influence, it’s awe-inspiring to consider its humble beginnings as the brainchild of a single man serving a spiritual movement that, like him, was not yet 40 years old.
Daily Word and Silent Unity
Daily Word’s inception can be traced to the Unity Prayer Ministry. Whitney had worked for Unity in a variety of roles, including as a letter writer for Silent Unity. Writing to those who had contacted Silent Unity for prayer, he concluded they would benefit from a daily reminder of Truth and dedicated the remaining 14 years of his life to producing Daily Word monthly, writing most of the messages and affirmations himself.
The link between Daily Word and Silent Unity would endure and deepen through the next significant editorial tenure, that of Martha Smock. Prior to Smock’s 33-year editorship, she served as an instructor in the Silent Unity letter writing department. In the style of the affirmative prayers she wrote and taught others to write, Smock described Daily Word this way: “It serves as a daily reminder that nothing is hopeless or impossible, and reaffirms that we are spiritual beings who can meet any situation happily, effectively, and constructively.”
Even today, the link between Daily Word and the Unity Prayer Ministry continues. Each issue contains a page of affirmations used each month in the prayer ministry. Readers are invited to use those same statements of Truth in their individual prayer practice.
Our writing declares—with increasing consistency—that the power and presence of God is not just in you it is you. We’re not surprised that this is not a comfortable direction of growth for some readers.
Roots and Wings
Daily Word, while remaining remarkably consistent in its format, has undergone some cosmetic changes during the decades. For instance, the earliest issues were devoid of color, photography, and graphic design elements. Today, each issue features a colorful photograph on the cover, often of a locale, animal, or of a natural or human-made creation. Talented graphic artists lend visual meaning to the poems and stories, and each issue is vibrant with color throughout.
Other, deeper changes pertain to the messages themselves. In Daily Word’s earliest years, the messages were instructional and absolute in tone, declaring metaphysical Truth, almost as a challenge to readers to take it on and live it. In those earliest messages, no mention was made of the state of the world or societal conditions. The comfort readers could find in those early words was in the absolutism of metaphysical Truth. It was almost as though the messages’ subtext was: It doesn’t matter what the state of the world is. It doesn’t matter what the state of your life is. Truth is Truth. Use it.
Later writing would soften, taking a more comforting, inspirational tone. These messages would mention the transitory realities of fear, grief, and illness and provide inspiration to turn to a more enduring Truth. This sensibility would evolve even further to mention with increasing consistency that this Truth of God as the one presence and power is not only something to realize, but also something to call upon from within and to use to face human circumstances, overcome difficulties, and create the lives we wish to live.
As Our Second Century Begins
Today we’re continuing to move these messages in a bold new direction. Our writing declares—with increasing consistency—that the power and presence of God is not just in you it is you. We’re not surprised that this is not a comfortable direction of growth for some readers. Many report feeling bereft, wondering where God has gone. The answer is simple if not altogether easy: God is where God has always been, expressing as the light in each mind and the love in every heart. We pray these messages help you deepen your spiritual understanding and access the power and strength that are among your divine gifts.
It is a joy to share the Truth of God and the Truth of you as a spiritual being. May Daily Word messages and stories continue to bless, comfort, and inspire you and lead you to realize you are fully, gloriously divine and endowed with the ability to live the Truth you know.
This article was adapted from the book 100 Years of Daily Word (Unity Books, 2023).
Rev. Teresa Burton became the editor of Daily Word in 2019.